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THE    LIFE 


OF 


SAINT   COLUMBA 


KETCH    MAP   OF    NORTHERN   BRITAIN   (CELTIC    '  ALBAN  ')  AND   OF   THE 
NORTH-EASTERN   PART   OF   IRELAND   ('  SCOTIA ')  :   A.D.    500-650 


THE   LIFE 


OF 


SAINT   COLUMBA 

(COLUMB-KILLE)  A.D.  521-597 

Founder  of  the  Monastery  of  Iona 
and  First  Christian  Missionary  to 
the  Pagan  Tribes  of  North  Britain 

BY 

SAINT   ADAMNAN 

a.d.~"679-704 
ninth  abbot  of  the  monastery  of  iona 


NEWLY    TRANSLATED    FROM    THE    LATIN 

WITH    NOTES    AND    ILLUSTRATIONS 

BY 

WENTWORTH    HUYSHE 


LONDON 
GEORGE  ROUTLEDGE  &  SONS,  Limited 

NEW  YORK:    E.   P.   DUTTON  &  CO. 


3X 


CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE         .                     .  •                   .  ix 
SUMMARY    OF    PRINCIPAL    EVENTS    IN    THE 

LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA    .                .           .  Xlii 

LIFE   OF   SAINT  ADAMNAN             .                .           .  lvii 
SAINT  ADAMNAN'S  LIFE  OF  SAINT  COLUMBA— 

BOOK       I                     .                     ...  3 

BOOK     II                  .                  ...  99 

BOOK    III                     .                     ...  187 

INDEX   OF  NAMES   AND   PLACES                .           .  253 


LIST   OF    ILLUSTRATIONS 


PAGE 
SKETCH     MAP    OF    NORTHERN    BRITAIN    AND    OF 

THE     NORTH-EASTERN     PART     OF     IRELAND, 

A.D.    500-650  .  .  Frontispiece 


ANCIENT    ORATORY    ON    THE    ISLAND    OF    INCH 
COLM,    FIRTH   OF    FORTH 

BELL   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

BELL   OF   SAINT   PATRICK   . 

THE   BACHUILL   MOR   OF   SAINT    MOLOC 

SCULPTURED   STONE,    MEIGLE,    PERTHSHIRE  . 

PILLOW-STONE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


2 

2 

2 

98 

174 
l86 


PREFACE 

In  undertaking  to  render  anew  into  English  St. 
Adamnan's  Life  of  Saint  Columba,  I  am  aware  of 
the  difficulty  which  must  beset  one  who  follows 
in  the  footsteps  of  the  three  translators  who  have 
preceded  me — Bishop  MacCarthy  of  Kerry,  the 
Bishop  of  Brechin,  and  Professor  J.  T.  Fowler 
of  Durham.  But  the  publishers  of  the  '  New 
Universal  Library',  wishing  to  include  so  im- 
portant a  work  in  that  series,  think  that  there  is 
room  for  a  new  translation  upon  somewhat  different 
lines,  and  they  are  desirous,  moreover,  of  placing 
such  a  translation,  with  notes,  illustrations,  and  a 
map,  within  reach  of  all  classes. 

The  versions  of  the  two  Bishops  above  mentioned 
are  free  versions,  rather  paraphrases  in  many  parts 
than  translations  :  that  of  Professor  Fowler,  on  the 
other  hand,  makes  sacrifices  to  accuracy,  imitating, 
as  he  says,  the  style  and  constructions  of  the 
original  (the  tediously  recurring  ablative  absolute, 
for  instance,  in  awkward  positions)  where  the  words 
might  have  been  put  into  better  English. 

There  is  room,  then,  it  would  seem,  to  steer  a 
middle  course  and  arrive  at  a  translation  which 
shall  read  easily  and  at  the  same  time  be  accurate. 
That  is  what  I  have  attempted  to  do. 

ix 


x  PREFACE 

The  basis  upon  which  all  must  work  who  edit 
or  translate  St.  Adamnan's  Columba  must  be  the 
famous  edition  of  the  text  printed  from  the  manu- 
script, written  early  in  the  eighth  century  by  one 
Dorbbene,  formerly  preserved  in  the  Monastery 
of  Reichenan,  and  now  in  the  public  library  of 
Schaff  hausen,  collated  with  six  other  manuscripts, 
and  edited  by  Dr.  William  Reeves,  in  1857,  for  the 
Irish  Archaeological  Society,  of  Dublin,  and  the 
Bannatyne  Club,  of  Edinburgh.  It  is  an  un- 
rivalled monument  of  scholarship  and  erudition. 
As  Dr.  Skene  says  in  his  edition  (1874)  of  Dr. 
Reeves's  work  (which  includes  the  translation 
made  by  the  Bishop  of  Brechin),  Adamnan's  Life 
of  St.  Columba  has  always  excited  interest  from 
its  undoubted  authenticity,  its  early  date,  and  its 
connection  with  the  introduction  of  Christianity 
into  Northern  Britain.  But,  he  adds,  until  the 
appearance  of  Dr.  Reeves's  edition  in  1857,  the 
real  character  of  Adamnan's  work  and  of  the 
monastic  establishment  of  Iona  was  little  under- 
stood, and  when  his  edition  appeared  the  accuracy 
of  its  learning,  the  thorough  research  displayed  in 
it  and  its  wealth  of  illustration,  placed  the  subject 
beyond  the  reach  of  controversy. 

Upon  Dr.  Reeves's  work,  therefore,  we  all  rest 
as  upon  bed-rock ;  he  has  given  us  an  authoritative 
text  in  which  the  close  scrutiny  of  half  a  century 
has  found  but  few  errors.  Of  his  labours,  and  of 
those  who  have  preceded  me  in  the  work  of  trans- 
lation, I  have  gratefully  availed  myself,  while 
working  in  my  own  way  and  on  my  own  responsi- 


PREFACE  xi 

bility  ;  and  I  have  had  the  additional  advantage  of 
no  slight  friendly  assistance  from  the  Rev.  George 
Cormack,  of  St.  Etheldreda's,  Ely  House,  Holborn, 
who  has  helped  me  throughout,  and  has  revised  my 
proofs.  I  express  to  him  here  my  hearty  thanks  for 
his  help  and  his  kindness. 

W.  H. 


INTRODUCTION 

As  Adamnan's  Life  of  St.  Colutnba  is  hagiology 
rather  than  biography,  except  in  the  very  last 
chapter,  which  is  pure  biography  of  the  most 
beautiful  kind,  it  is  necessary,  I  think,  for  the 
better  understanding  of  the  work,  to  give  a  con- 
nected account  of  the  life  of  the  Saint.  This  may 
perhaps  be  best  and  most  briefly  done  in  the  form 
of  a  chronological  summary,  in  compiling  which 
I  have  made  use  of  the  Old  Irish  Life  of  Columba 
contained  in  the  Leabhar  Breac,  an  ancient  MS. 
preserved  in  the  Library  of  the  Royal  Irish 
Academy.  Those  who  wish  for  fuller  information 
can  find  it  in  the  many  modern  Lives  of  St. 
Columba,  such  as  Montalembert's  Monks  of  the 
West,  Book  IX ;  Healy's  Insula  Sanctorum;  Dr. 
Reeves's  and  Professor  Fowler's  Adamnan;  Alban 
Butler's  Lives  of  the  Saints;  the  Rev.  John 
Golden's  St.  Columba,  the  Apostle  of  Scotland 
(Catholic  Truth  Society),  and  the  articles  in  the 
Dictionaries  of  National  Biography  by  Dr.  Nor- 
man Moore,  and  Christian  Biography  by  the  Rev. 
James  Gammack  and  the  Rev.  Charles  Hole. 


SLMMARY     OF     PRINCIPAL     EVENTS 
IN   THE   LIFE   OF   ST.    COLUMBA 


A.D.    521.     COLUMBA    BORN    AT    GARTAN,   COUNTY 
DONEGAL. 

COLUMBA  was  born  at  Gartan  (Little  Field)  on  the 
night  in  which  St.  Buite,  the  Founder  of  Monaster- 
boice,  died,  namely,  December  7th,  521.  His  father 
was  Fedhlimidh  (Phelim),  a  chieftain  of  the  clan 
O'Donnell,  grandson  of  Connall  Gulban,  from  whom 
the  north-west  of  Ulster  takes  its  name  of  Tirconaill 
(Tyrconnel).  Conall  Gulban  was  son  of  Nial 
Naighiallach,  'Niall  of  the  Nine  Hostages',  King 
of  Ireland  from  379  to  405.  Columba's  mother 
was  Ethne,  eleventh  in  descent  from  Cathair  Mor, 
King  of  Leinster,  so  that  he  was  of  royal  lineage 
by  both  parents.  '  Noble  was  the  family  of  Colum- 
Kille  in  respect  of  the  world',  says  the  Old  Irish 
Life,  'namely  of  the  race  of  Conall  son  of  Niall 
was  he.  He  was  eligible  to  the  Kingship  of  Eriu, 
according  to  family,  and  it  was  offered  to  him,  if  he 
himself  had  not  abandoned  it  for  God.'  Gartan, 
his  birthplace,  is  on  a  hillside,  at  the  foot  of  which 
are  three  lakes,  overhung  by  dark  wild  mountains, 
once  the  haunt  of  numerous  wolves.  Cruithnechan, 
the  priest,  baptized  him  at  Tulach  Dubhglaise 
b  xiii 


xiv  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

(Temple  Douglas)  by  the  two  names  of  Colum 
(dove)  and  Crimthain  (wolf).  At  the  time  of 
Columba's  birth,  Justinian  was  Emperor  at  Con- 
stantinople, and  Benedict,  founder  of  monastic 
orders,  had  established  his  order  at  Monte  Cassino. 
The  Roman  legions  had  been  withdrawn  from 
Britain  a  hundred  years,  and  the  Angles,  Jutes, 
and  Saxons  were  pouring  into  Britain  in  successive 
waves  of  invasion,  driving  the  Christianized  Britains 
westward.  In  Ireland  Christianity  had  long  been 
established,  and  Columba  was  a  born  and  baptized 
Christian. 


FOSTERAGE  AND   EARLY  EDUCATION. 

An  Irish  child  of  royal  birth  was  always  brought  up 
by  foster-parents.  Columba's  foster-parent  was  the 
priest  Cruithnechan  (Adamnan,  Book  III.  ch.  ii.), 
and  he  was  also  brought  up  by  the  O'Firghils.  His 
childhood,  says  Dr.  Moore,  was  spent  with  them  at 
Doire  Ethne,  a  place  so  wild  to  this  day  that  the 
eagle,  the  raven,  the  badger,  and  the  pine  marten 
have  their  homes  in  it.  Some  of  the  tribe  that 
fostered  him  still  live  at  Kilmacrenan,  as  their 
ancient  home  is  now  called.  While  he  was  under 
the  care  of  Cruithnechan  his  mind  became  imbued 
with  the  deeply  religious  feeling  which  was  to  lead 
to  such  great  results,  and  he  received  the  name  of 
'  Colum-Kill ' — '  Colum  of  the  Kill,  or  cell' — given 
to  him,  says  the  ancient  Irish  record  in  the 
Leabhar  Breac,  because  he  so  often  came  from 
the  cell  in  which  he  read  his  psalms  to  meet  the 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     xv 

children  of  the  neighbourhood.  And  the  children 
would  say :  '  Has  our  little  Colum  come  to-day 
from  the  cell  in  Tir-Lughdech  in  Cinell  Conaill  ? ' 


HE   STUDIES   UNDER   ST.    FINNIAN   AND    GEMMAN, 
THE   BARD. 

After  leaving  the  good  priest  Cruithnechan, 
Columba  became  a  pupil  at  Moville,  Co.  Down,  the 
Ecclesiastical  School  founded  by  St.  Finnian  in 
540,  and  there  he  was  ordained  deacon.  The 
incident  described  by  Adamnan,  Book  II.  ch.  i., 
occurred  at  this  time. 

After  leaving  Moville  he  went  to  Master  Gemman, 
an  aged  Bard  of  Leinster,  and  here  he  became 
confirmed  in  his  love  for  the  old  poetic  tales  of 
Ireland,  which  according  to  Irish  tradition  he 
retained  throughout  life.  It  was  while  he  was 
with  Gemman  the  Bard  that  the  incident,  related 
in  Book  II.  ch.  xxv.,  happened,  when  Columba  and 
Gemman  tried  to  prevent  the  atrocious  murder  of 
a  young  girl. 

WITH   ST.    FINNIAN   OF  CLONARD  AND  ST.   MOBHI 
OF   GLASNEVIN. 

From  Master  Gemman,  Columba  went  to  the 
monastic  school  of  the  abbot  St.  Finnian,  the  Wise 
Tutor  of  Erin's  Saints,  the  most  famous  in  Ireland, 
at  Clonard,  on  the  head  waters  of  the  Boyne, 
founded  about  the  year  520.  Twelve  of  St. 
Finnian's  disciples,  among  them   Columba,  were 


xvi         LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

known  as  the  Twelve  Apostles  of  Erin.  On  the 
day  of  his  arrival  at  Clonard,  Columba  asked  Abbot 
Finnian  where  he  should  put  up  his  hut.  'At  the 
door  of  the  church '  was  the  answer.  Columba 
built  his  cell  at  some  distance  away  from  the  door. 
'  You  have  not  obeyed  my  directions ',  said  the 
Saint.  'It  is  true  that  I  have  not  done  so',  said 
Columba,  'but  the  door  will  hereafter  be  here.' 
And  in  course  of  time,  as  the  monastery  grew  in 
extent  and  importance,  the  door  of  the  church  was 
at  that  spot. 

Columba  was  ordained  priest  while  at  Clonard  by 
Bishop  Etchen,  of  Clonfad,  and  after  his  ordination 
he  went  with  three  of  his  friends  and  companions, 
Comgall,  Kiaran  mac  Antsair,  and  Kairreeh,  to 
Glasnevin,  near  Dublin,  where  St.  Mobhi,  one  of 
his  fellow-students  at  Clonard,  had  a  school.  The 
pupils  were  dispersed  in  consequence  of  the  great 
plague,  known  as  the  '  Yellow  Plague ',  which 
prevailed  in  many  parts  of  Europe  in  the  years 
543-4.  Columba  returned  to  his  native  province 
of  Ulster,  praying,  as  he  crossed  the  Bior  (Moyola 
water),  that  the  plague  might  there  be  stayed. 


A.D.    545.    COLUMBA   FOUNDS   THE   MONASTERY 
OF  DERRY. 

'  In  the  far  north,  a  few  miles  from  Ailech,  the 
stone  hill-fortress  of  the  Northern  Hy-Neill,  there 
was  a  fortified  hill,  the  sides  of  which  were  clothed 
with  an  oak  wood.  It  was  called,  from  some  long- 
forgotten  chief,  Daire  Calgaich,  the  "  Oak  Wood  of 


SUMMARY  OF   PRINCIPAL   EVENTS     xvii 

Calgaich."  The  fort  was  given  by  his  admiring 
kinsmen  to  Columba,  and  there  he  built  his  first 
church,  one  day's  journey  from  the  mountains  of 
his  birth,  in  sight  of  the  sea  which  was  to  carry 
him  to  the  place  of  his  death.  In  after  times 
the  hill  acquired  the  name  of  its  consecrator,  and 
was  known  for  nearly  a  thousand  years  as  Daire 
Coluimkille  ;  it  then  took  a  prefix  from  the  home 
of  its  conquerors,  and  was  called  Londonderry, 
but  is  now  universally  known  by  its  oldest  name 
of  all,  Daire,  phonetically  spelt  Derry.  A  lane 
called  Longtower  still  marks  the  locality  of  the 
church  built  by  Columba  .in  545,  and  near  which 
for  many  centuries  there  stood  a  tall  round  tower.' 
(Dr.  Norman  Moore.)  While  Columba  was  in 
Derry  he  meditated  going  to  Rome  and  Jerusalem, 
and  he  did  go  to  Tours,  in  France,  to  Tor-inis  of 
Martin,  as  the  Old  Irish  Life  has  it,  'and  brought 
away  the  Gospel  that  had  been  on  Martin's  bosom 
one  hundred  years  in  the  earth  ;  and  he  left  it 
in  Deri*}7.' 

A.D.   545-62.  COLUMBA  FOUNDS   MANY  CHURCHES 
AND   MONASTERIES. 

During  the  years  between  545  and  562  Columba 
founded  many  churches  and  monastic  societies. 
'  A  hundred  churches  which  the  wave  frequents  is 
the  number  of  churches  he  has  on  the  margin 
of  the  sea.  There  was  a  mass-chalice  in  every 
church5,  says  the  Old  Irish  Life.  Durrow,  Dair 
Magh   the   Oak   Plain,  on  the  border   of  King's 


xviii        LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

County  and  Westmeath,  was  the  principal  one, 
founded  in  553. 

One  of  the  most  famous  of  ancient  Irish  manu- 
scripts, the  '  Book  of  Durrow ',  the  Gospels  of  the 
Vulgate,  still  preserved  in  Trinity  College,  Dublin, 
is  attributed  to  Columba's  own  hand.  The  colo- 
phon refers  to  '  Columba  the  writer '  of  the  work, 
but  Professor  Fowler  says  the  colophon  and  some 
other  parts  of  the  manuscript,  seem  to  be  copied 
from  an  earlier  one,  and  to  contain  errors  which 
St.  Columba  would  hardly  have  committed.  An- 
other of  Columba's  foundations  was  the  monastery 
of  Kells,  in  Meath,  and  from  it  is  named  another 
famous  and  beautiful  manuscript,  the  '  Book  of 
Kells ',  of  which  Professor  Fowler  says :  'It  is 
impossible  to  give  any  idea  of  the  splendour  and 
elaboration  of  its  ornamental  pages  and  letters,  or 
of  the  extreme  minuteness  of  the  work,  which 
often  requires  a  lens  to  trace  it.'  These  two 
famous  manuscripts  of  Durrow  and  Kells  are  the 
finest  extant  works  of  their  kind,  and  both  are 
now  thought  to  be  of  the  seventh  and  not  the  sixth 
century. 

Arran,  Boyle,  Swords,  Raphoe,  Tory  Island  and 
Drumcliff  were  also  Columban  foundations.  The 
most  remote  of  his  monasteries  was  that  of  Glen 
Columkille,  in  the  westernmost  part  of  Ulster. 
Here,  on  the  north  side  of  the  glen,  are  the  ruins 
of  Columba's  church  and  traces  of  the  monastic 
buildings.  '  Just  below  it  the  sea  is  always  covered 
with  foam  round  the  promontory  of  Garraros, 
while  mists  shut  out  from  view  for  six  months  the 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS 


xix 


opposite  side'  of  the  glen  and  the  path  ascending 
it  into  the  world.  The  Saint  and  his  followers 
always  thought  the  roar  of  the  sea  and  mists 
sweeping  across  desolate  moorland  incitements 
to  devotion.5     (Dr.  N.  Moore.) 

'insula  sanctorum.' 

Such  were  the  foundations  of  a  single  holy  man 
in  that  astonishing  age  of  piety  in  Ireland,  well 
named  Insula  Sanctorum.  '  Rich  endowments 
in  land,  bestowed  by  princes  and  chieftains,  and 
skilfully  tilled  by  monks,  enabled  the  monasteries 
of  Erin  to  grant  free  education,  food,  raiment  and 
books  to  the  thousands  who  flocked  to  their  halls. 
The  monastic  schools  of  the  island  for  two  or 
three  centuries  were  regarded  by  all  Christians  as 
the  chief  centres  of  education  ...  In  the  fifth  and 
sixth  centuries,  amidst  the  dreadful  shock  of  the 
fall  of  the  Roman  Empire  and  the  desolation  of 
Europe  by  barbarous  hordes,  Ireland,  being  at  a 
distance  from  the  ruin,  became  the  asylum  of 
learning,  and  monks  from  Ireland  then  carried 
back  the  torch  to  the  devastated  regions  of  Gaul 
and  Germany.'    (Golden.) 

A.D.  561-3.      THE   'EXILE'   OF  COLUMBA  AND   ITS 
CAUSES. 

Columba's  greatest  work,  however,  was  to  be 
done  elsewhere,  among  peoples  who,  while  un- 
affected by  the  fall  of  the  Roman  Empire  and  by 
invasion,   were   sunk   in   paganism — the    Picts   of 


xx  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Alban,  who  dwelt  beyond  the  Grampians,  in  the 
eastern  parts  of  what  is  now  Scotland.  It  was  in 
the  year  563  that  Columba  left  Ireland  two  years 
after  a  great  battle  between  Diarmait,  King  of 
Ireland,  and  Columba's  kinsmen,  the  Clan  Neill, 
fought  at  Culdreimhne  (now  Cooladrummon),  six 
miles  north  of  Sligo,  in  561.  It  was  this  battle, 
according  to  tradition,  that  led  to  his  exile  from 
Ireland,  and  his  missionary  expedition  to  Alban. 
It  is  said  that  Columba  himself  mustered  the 
Clan  Neill  for  the  war  for  the  purpose  of  aveng- 
ing two  grievances  against  King  Diarmait.  One 
grievance  was  that  Diarmait  had  slain  Columba's 
clansman,  the  young  Prince  Curnan,  who  had 
taken  sanctuary  with  him  after  having  caused 
the  death  of  a  playfellow  during  the  sports 
at  Tara.  The  other  was  a  decision  which 
Columba  considered  unjust  given  against  him  by 
Diarmait  in  the  matter  of  the  ownership  of  a  book. 
The  incident  is  thus  related  by  the  Rev.  John 
Golden  :  '  In  St.  Columba's  thirty-ninth  year,  while 
visiting  at  Clonard,  he  secretly  made  a  copy  of  a 
beautiful  book  of  the  Psalms  kept  by  the  Abbot 
Finian  in  the  church.  The  abbot  soon  discovered 
the  fact,  and  demanded  the  copy  as  his  right.  The 
book  had  cost  Columba  many  a  sleepless  night, 
and  he  stoutly  refused  to  surrender  it.  Unable  to 
agree,  the  disputants  appealed  to  Diarmait,  the 
chief  King  of  Ireland.  'To  every  cow  belongeth 
her  calf  was  the  judgment  of  Tara's  king.  Sorely 
grieved  at  the  loss  of  his  copy,  which  he  was  obliged 
to  surrender  to  his  old  master,  he  boldly  exclaimed : 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     xxi 

'This  is  an  unjust  decision,  O  Diarmait,  and  I  will 
be  avenged  ! '  It  has  been  claimed  that  this  very 
manuscript,  a  psalter  enclosed  in  a  shrine,  is  that 
known  as  the  Cathach,  or  '  Battle ',  venerated  for 
more  than  a  thousand  years  by  the  Clan  O'Donnell 
(Columba's  clan),  who  carried  it  into  their  battles 
as  a  sure  pledge  of  victory.  It  is  now  in  the 
Library  of  the  Royal  Irish  Academy. 

But  whether  the  story  of  Columba's  secret  copy- 
ing of  the  Abbot's  psalter  be  true  or  not,  and 
whether  the  Cathach  be  that  identical  copy  or  not, 
the  story  is  but  one  of  many  which  prove  the 
passionate  love  of  Columba  and  of  the  early  Irish 
ecclesiastics  for  fine  manuscripts.  Columba  is  said 
to  have  written  out  more  than  three  hundred 
copies  of  the  Vulgate  and  of  the  Psalter  with  his 
own  hand.  In  St.  Adamnan's  narrative  we  often 
find  him  described  as  writing  in  his  cell. 

THE  BATTLE  AND   THE   PENANCE. 

King  Diarmait,  it  is  said,  imprisoned  Columba 
at  Tara,  but  he  escaped  and  made  at  once  for  his 
home  and  kinsmen  in  Tyrconnell.  On  his  journey, 
while  in  the  mountains,  he  is  said  to  have  written 
the  pathetic  Song  of  Trust,  '  Alone  am  I  on  the 
mountain',  in  which  is  the  remarkable  verse  re- 
ferring to  the  auguries  and  magic  of  the  Druids  : 

I  adore  not  the  voice  of  birds, 
Nor  chance,  nor  the  love  of  son  or  wife, 
My  Druid  is  Christ  the  Son  of  God, 
The  Son  of  Mary,  the  Great  Abbot, 
The  Father,  the  Son  and  the  Holy  Ghost. 


xxii  LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

His  kinsmen  received  Columba  among  them 
with  enthusiastic  affection,  and  all  Ulster  and 
Connaught  its  ally  took  up  arms  in  his  cause.  The 
battle  was  fought,  as  has  been  said,  at  Coola- 
drummon,  near  Sligo.  King  Diarmait  was  totally 
defeated  with  great  slaughter.  Diarmait  then  called 
a  synod  at  Teltown,  in  Meath,  which  excommuni- 
cated Columba  (see  Adamnan,  Book  III.  ch.  iii.), 
but  the  excommunication  was  annulled.  Then, 
according  to  Irish  tradition,  Columba  went  to  St. 
Laisren,  his  soul  friend  or  confessor,  and  St.  Lais- 
ren  laid  on  him  as  penance  that  he  must  leave 
Ireland,  go  and  win  as  many  souls  for  Christ  as 
there  had  been  lives  lost  in  the  battle,  never  look 
on  his  native  land  again  or  set  foot  on  its  soil. 
Such  are  the  legends  and  traditions  which  cluster 
about  the  '  exile  of  Columba.'  The  Old  Irish  Life 
says  nothing  of  them,  but  gives  the  following  per- 
fectly simple  and  probable  statement :  '  When 
Columkille  had  made  the  circuit  of  all  Eriu,  and 
when  he  had  sown  faith  and  religion ;  when 
numerous  multitudes  had  been  baptized  by  him  ; 
when  he  had  founded  churches  and  establishments 
and  had  left  in  them  seniors,  and  reliquaries,  and 
relics  of  martyrs,  the  determination  that  he  had 
determined  from  the  beginning  of  his  life  came 
into  his  mind — namely,  to  go  on  pilgrimage.  He 
then  meditated  going  across  the  sea  to  preach  the 
word  of  God  to  the  men  of  Alba  and  to  the  Britons 
and  the  Saxons.  He  went,  therefore,  on  a  voyage. 
His  age  was  forty-two  when  he  went.  He  was 
thirty-four  years  in  Alba.     And  the  number  that 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS  xxiii 

went  with  him  was,  twenty  bishops,  forty  priests, 
thirty  deacons,  and  fifty  students.  He  went  in 
good  spirits,  until  he  reached  the  place  the  name 
of  which  to-day  is  Hii-Coluim-Kille  (I-colm-kill  = 
Iona).  On  Quinquagesima  night,  moreover,  he 
arrived.' 

A.D.   563.     IONA. 

It  was  from  Deny  that  Columba  sailed  for  the 
north,  and  probably,  as  Adamnan  says,  with  twelve 
followers  only  at  first.  In  an  ancient  Irish  poem, 
which  is  in  the  form  of  a  Song  of  Farewell, 
Columba  thus  describes  his  departure  from  his 
native  land  : — 

How  rapid  the  speed  of  my  coracle  ; 

And  its  stern  turned  upon  Derry  ; 

I  grieve  at  my  errand  o'er  the  noble  sea, 

Travelling  to  Alba  of  the  ravens. 

My  foot  in  my  sweet  little  coracle, 

My  sad  heart  still  bleeding  : 

Weak  is  the  man  that  cannot  lead ; 

Totally  blind  are  all  the  ignorant. 

There  is  a  grey  eye 

That  looks  back  upon  Erin  ; 

It  shall  not  see  during  life 

The  men  of  Erin,  nor  their  wives. 

My  vision  o'er  the  brine  I  stretch 

From  the  ample  oaken  planks  ; 

Large  is  the  tear  of  my  soft  grey  eye, 

When  I  look  back  upon  Erin. 

There  is  in  Iona  a  little  bay  which  indents  its 


xxiv        LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

southern  shore,  Port-na-Churraich,  the  Bay  of  the 
Coracle.  It  was  here  that  Columba  landed.  Above 
on  the  hill,  is  a  cairn  known  from  time  imme- 
morial as  the  Carn-cul-ri-Erin,  the  '  Cairn  of  the 
Back  turned  to  Ireland',  marking  the  spot  where 
the  exile  found  that  Ireland  was  no  longer  in  sight, 
and  that  here,  at  last,  he  had  turned  his  back  on 
that  beloved  shore.  For  as  the  story  goes,  in  his 
voyage  northward,  passing  the  islands  of  I  slay  and 
Jura,  he  landed  first  at  Oronsay,  went  up  the  hill 
and  found  that  Erin  was  still  there  on  the  horizon, 
a  blue  line  on  the  sea.  On  again,  therefore,  in  his 
boat  with  the  faithful  twelve.  True  Irishman  as 
he  was,  he  could  not  bear  to  live  away  from  Erin, 
and  yet  within  sight  of  her,  and  so,  passing  the 
tiny  islets  which  lie  off  the  southern  end  of  Iona, 
he  made  straight  for  the  Port-na-Curraich,  landed 
there,  ascended  the  rocky  hill  on  his  left,  gazed 
south,  and  saw — the  wide  unbroken  sea. 

Among  the  Irish  manuscripts  in  the  Burgundian 
Library  of  Brussels  there  is  an  ancient  Celtic  poem 
bearing  the  title  Columkille  fecit.  This  poem,  says 
Dr.  Skene,  so  remarkably  describes  the  view  from 
the  Carn-cul-ri-Erin,  overlooking  the  Port-na- 
Curraich,  and  the  emotions  it  was  calculated  to 
excite  in  one  of  Columba's  temperament,  that  it 
is  hardly  possible  to  avoid  the  conclusion  that  it 
contains  the  genuine  expression  of  his  feelings. 
The  poem  was  transcribed  and  translated  by  the 
late  Professor  O'Curry,  and  it  runs  as  follows  : — 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     xxv 

Delightful  would  it  be  to  me  to  be  in  Uchd  Ailiun 

On  the  pinnacle  of  a  rock, 
That  I  might  often  see 

The  face  of  the  ocean  ; 
That  I  might  see  its  heaving  waves 

Over  the  wide  ocean, 
When  they  chant  music  to  their  Father 

Upon  the  world's  course  ; 
That  I  might  see  its  level  sparkling  strand, 

It  would  be  no  cause  of  sorrow  ; 
That  I  might  hear  the  song  of  the  wonderful  birds, 

Source  of  happiness  ; 
That  I  might  hear  the  thunder  of  the  crowding  waves 

Upon  the  rocks  ; 
That  I  might  hear  the  roar  by  the  side  of  the  church 

Of  the  surrounding  sea  ; 
That  I  might  see  its  noble  flocks 

Over  the  watery  ocean  ; 
That  I  might  see  the  sea  monsters, 

The  greatest  of  all  wonders  ; 
That  I  might  see  its  ebb  and  flood 

In  their  career  ; 
That  my  mystical  name  might  be,  I  say, 

1  Cul-ri-Erin ' ; 
That  contrition  might  come  upon  my  heart 

Upon  looking  at  her  ; 
That  I  might  bewail  my  evils  all, 

Though  it  were  difficult  to  compute  them  ; 
That  I  might  bless  the  Lord 

Who  conserves  all, 
Heaven  with  its  countless  bright  orders, 

Land,  strand,  and  flood  ; 
That  I  might  search  the  books  all, 

That  would  be  good  for  any  soul ; 


xxvi        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

At  times  kneeling  to  Beloved  Heaven  ; 

At  times  at  psalm-singing  ; 
At  times  contemplating  the  King  of  Heaven, 

Holy  the  Chief; 
At  times  at  work  without  compulsion  ; 

This  would  be  delightful. 
At  times  plucking  dtiilisc  from  the  rocks  ; 

At  times  fishing ; 
At  times  giving  food  to  the  poor  ; 

At  times  in  a  carcair  [solitary  cell]. 
The  best  advice  in  the  presence  of  God 

To  me  has  been  vouchsafed. 
The  King  whose  servant  I  am  will  not  let 

Anything  deceive  me. 

In  Iona,  then,  Columba  decided  to  stay,  and  the 
little  company  no  doubt  soon  began  their  explora- 
tion of  the  island.  The  late  Duke  of  Argyle,  in 
his  little  book  Zona,  will  help  us  to  realize  what 
were  the  first  impressions  of  the  pioneer-missionary, 
who  must  soon  have  discovered  that  the  island  had 
other  recommendations  besides  its  being  out  of 
sight  of  Ireland.  '  On  the  eastern  side  was  the 
channel,  which  he  had  missed,  giving  much-needed 
shelter  from  prevailing  wrinds.  Above  all  it  was  a 
fertile  island,  giving  promise  of  ample  sustenance 
for  man  and  beast.  It  is  true  Iona  is  a  rocky 
island,  the  bones  protruding  at  frequent  intervals 
through  the  skin  of  turf.  Even  there,  however, 
Columba  must  have  seen  that  the  pasture  was 
close  and  good,  and  not  far  from  the  spot  on 
which  he  first  swept  the  southern  sky  he  must 
have  found  that  the  healthy  and  rocky  hills  sub- 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS    xxvii 

sided  into  a  lower  tract,  green  with  that  delicious 
turf  which,  full  of  thyme  and  wild  clover,  gathers 
upon  soils  of  shelly  sand.  This  tract  is  called 
in  Gaelic  "The  Machar",  or  Sandy  Plain.  A  little 
farther  on  he  must  soon  have  found  that  the 
eastern  or  sheltered  side  presented  a  slope  of 
fertile  soil  exactly  suiting  the  essential  conditions 
of  ancient  husbandry — a  tract  of  land  which  was 
as  admirably  adapted  for  the  growth  of  corn  as 
the  remainder  of  it  was  suited  to  the  support  of 
flocks  and  herds.'  An  additional  advantage  was 
that  Iona  lay  on  the  line  which  divided  the 
Christian  Irish  of  Britain  and  the  pagan  Picts — 
a  desirable  strategic  centre  for  the  work  Columba 
had  in  hand.  The  Irish  annals  state  that  Conall, 
son  of  Comgill,  the  sixth  king  of  the  Irish  colony 
of  Dalriada,  in  Britain,  granted  the  island  to 
Columba.  According  to  Bede  and  others,  it  was 
Brude,  the  Pictish  king.  The  probability  is  that 
Columba  found  Iona  unoccupied  and  unclaimed, 
that  Conall  promised  not  to  disturb  his  occupation 
of  it,  and  that  when  the  Picts  were  converted  to 
Christianity  by  Columba,  King  Brude  sanctioned 
his  right  and  title  to  the  little  isle. 

THE   FOUNDING  OF  THE   MONASTERY. 

Having  decided  upon  the  eastern  slope  of  the 
island  facing  the  island  of  Mull  as  the  site  of  their 
future  home,  Columba  and  bis  companions  no  doubt 
at  once  set  to  work  to  put  up  their  dwellings,  which 
Adamnan  tells  us  were  of  wood  and  wattles.    There 


xxviii      LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

was  a  refectory  with  its  fireplace  and  vessel  of  water; 
a  wattled  guest  chamber  ;  the  cells  of  the  monks 
with  the  little  court  which  they  surrounded  ;  the 
oaken  church  with  its  side  chamber  ;  the  cell  of 
Columba  himself,  built  of  planks,  on  the  higher 
ground  of  the  settlement.  Dr.  Skene,  in  his  in- 
valuable work  on  Celtic  Scotland,  has  given,  in 
the  second  volume,  a  most  interesting  description, 
with  a  plan  of  the  site  of  Columba's  Monastery 
and  an  account  of  its  constitution  as  compiled 
from  Adamnan.  Columba's  monastic  system,  he 
says,  presented  the  same  life  of  strict  submission 
to  a  rule  enforcing  observance  of  religious  duty, 
ascetic  practice  and  self-denial,  which  characterized 
the  monastic  church  in  Ireland  ;  and  its  doctrines 
in  no  respect  differed  from  that  church.  The 
principal  service  of  the  Columbans,  as  of  course 
of  the  Church  everywhere,  was  the  celebration 
of  the  '  Sacred  Mysteries  of  the  Eucharist ',  or  the 
'Mysteries  of  the  Sacred  Oblation' — the  Mass; 
and  the  chief  Festival  of  the  year  was  the  Paschal 
solemnity — Easter.  The  practice  of  making  the 
sign  of  the  Cross  is  constantly  mentioned  by 
Adamnan,  and  a  very  important  part  of  the  mon- 
astic system  of  Iona  was  its  severe  penitential 
discipline.  The  ordinary  discipline  consisted  of 
fasting  on  Wednesdays  and  Fridays  and  during 
Lent.  When  any  one,  lay  or  cleric,  desired  to 
enter  upon  a  special  course  of  exercises,  it  was 
usual  to  select  an  Anmchara,  soul-friend,  spiritual 
friend,  under  whose  direction  the  course  was  made. 
The  monastic  life  of  Iona,  as  everywhere,  was  a 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS   xxix 

special  Militia  Chris ti ;  those  who  adopted  it 
were  Soldiers  of  Christ,  and  their  principles  were 
Obedience,  Celibacy  (very  strictly  enjoined  and 
enforced  by  Columba),  Caution  and  Reason  in 
speech,  Humility,  and  one  of  the  leading  features 
in  monasticism  especially  developed  in  Iona — 
Hospitality,  with  Kindness  to  Animals.  All  these 
monastic  characteristics  will  be  found  in  Adamnan's 
narrative,  with  some  remarkable  instances  of  very 
severe  Penitential  Discipline. 


EARLY   YEARS    OF    COLUMBA'S    MISSION    IN    IONA. 

For  two  years  after  his  landing  in  Iona,  Columba 
was  busy  establishing  his  community,  and  no  doubt 
gathering  from  all  available  sources  information 
as  to  his  neighbours  on  the  islands  around  and  on 
the  mainland.  He  would  soon  have  found  that 
Iona  was  in  every  way  a  most  suitable  centre  for 
his  work,  and,  what  was  of  course  of  great  im- 
portance, that  it  and  the  islands  near  it  could 
support  his  fatnilia.  On  this  point  the  late  Duke 
of  Argyle,  of  whose  ancestral  property  Iona  is  a 
part,  gives  some  interesting  information :  '  The 
island5,  he  says,  'now  (that  is,  in  1870)  supports 
upwards  of  200  cows  and  heifers,  140  younger 
beasts,  about  600  sheep  and  lambs,  25  horses,  and 
some  three  score  pigs.  It  grows  also  a  consider- 
able quantity  of  grain.  But  even  these  resources, 
ample  as  they  might  seem  to  be,  were  not  enough 
for  the  growing  number  of  the  Columban  Monastery. 
Very  soon  royal  grants  of  neighbouring   islands 


xxx         LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

made  them  tributary  to  the  sustenance  of  the 
Abbot  and  his  brethren,  and  foremost  among  these 
came  the  productive  corn-bearing  soil  and  the  rich 
pastures  of  Tiree  [the  '  Ethica  terra '  of  Adamnan]. 
Fish  were  abundant,  and  could  be  obtained  at  all 
seasons.  The  large  flounders  of  the  Sound  of  Iona 
are  still  an  important  item  in  the  diet  of  its  people. 
The  rocks  and  islets  all  around  swarmed  with  seals, 
and  their  flesh  seems  to  have  been  a  favourite 
article  of  food.  Their  oil  also  doubtless  supplied 
the  light  with  which  during  the  many  long  winter 
evenings  Columba  pored  over  his  manuscripts  of 
the  sacred  text,  or  performed  midnight  services 
before  the  altar.' 


*  THE  SALT  MAIN  ON  WHICH  THE  SEA-GULLS  CRY.5 

There  must  have  been  constant  life  and  move- 
ment on  and  around  the  little  isle  in  those  early 
days  of  the  settlement  on  it  of  the  Pioneers  of  the 
Cross.  It  is  important  to  remember,  as  the  Duke 
of  Argyle  has  so  well  stated,  that  much  of  their 
activity  was  exercised  on  the  sea.  '  We  must  not 
forget',  he  says,'Columba's  frequent  embarkations — 
sometimes  only  in  little  boats  to  cross  the  Sound, 
or  to  visit  those  adjacent  islands,  some  of  which 
were  colonized  from  the  parent  Monastery  ;  some- 
times in  larger  vessels  starting  on  some  distant 
expedition  to  preach  among  the  heathen  Picts. 
Columba  and  his  brethren  must  have  been  skilled 
and  hardy  seamen.  How  often  from  the  Torr 
Abb — the   Abbot's    Hill — must   the   monks   have 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS   xxxi 

watched  for  their  Abbot's  returning  bark  rounding 
the  red  rocks  of  Mull  from  the  southward,  or 
speeding  with  longer  notice  of  approach  from  the 
north.  From  the  same  spot,  we  may  be  sure, 
has  Columba  often  watched  the  frequent  sail — 
now  from  one  quarter,  now  from  another,  bringing 
strange  men  on  strange  errands,  or  old  familiar 
friends  to  renew  the  broken  intercourse  of  youth.' 
In  that  same  ancient  Irish  poem,  from  which  I 
have  already  quoted  some  verses,  there  is  one 
verse  which  admirably  describes  in  a  few  lines 
Columba  the  monk,  and  Columba  the  seaman. 
It  forms  part  of  the  metrical  farewell  to  Erin 
uttered  by  himself  when  on  his  voyage  to  Iona. 
He  has  sailed  down  the  river  Foyle  and  is  on  the 
Lough  beneath  the  mountain  range  which  rises 
above  its  western  shore  : — 

To  behold  the  fair  Loch  Feval  (Foyle) 
The  form  of  its  shores  is  delightful ; 
Delightful  is  that ;  and  delightful 
The  salt  main  on  which  the  sea-gulls  cry. 
On  my  coming  from  Derry  afar 
It  is  quiet,  and  it  is  delightful — 

Delightful. 

The  sail  main  on  which  the  sea-gulls  cry  I  Here, 
in  this  fine  line,  is  the  real  Columban  note,  here 
the  very  atmosphere  of  St.  Adamnan's  story  of 
Columba — the  sea,  the  rolling  blue  Atlantic  that 
beats  upon  the  coast  of  Erin  and  girds  about  Iona 
and  the  islands.  Once  more  the  Duke  of  Argyle 
gives  us  a  pen  picture  :    '  On  one  side  the  open 


xxxii       LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

ocean,  with  nothing  to  break  the  fetch  of  waves 
from  the  shores  of  the  New  World  ;  on  the  other, 
innumerable  creeks  and  bays  and  inlets,  which 
carry  the  eye  round  capes  and  islands,  and 
along  retreating  lines  of  shore  far  in  among  the 
hills.  Columba  may  indeed  have  missed  the 
oaks  of  Derry,  and  that  intense  love  of  place 
which  is  a  passion  with  the  Celt,  doubtless  made 
all  lands  but  Erin  appear  to  him  as  lands  of 
exile.  But  if  his  eye  rested  with  delight  on  the 
"  dashing  of  the  wave  "  and  on  the  "  form  of  shores", 
no  spot  could  have  been  better  chosen  than  that 
on  which  he  lived  and  died.' 


A.D.  565.   THE  MISSION  TO   KING   BRUDE. 

St.  Columba  must  have  been  well  aware  long 
before  he  left  Ireland  that  the  spirit  of  clanship 
was  as  strong  in  North  Britain  as  it  was  in  his 
native  land,  not  only  among  his  Irish  kindred 
and  fellow-countrymen  in  the  over-sea  Christian 
Dalriada  (now  Argyle),  his  neighbours  to  the  south- 
east, but  also  among  the  Picts.  He  well  knew 
that  if  the  Pictish  tribes  were  to  be  converted  to 
the  Faith  of  Christ  he  must  begin  with  their  king, 
whose  example  the  people  would  surely  follow. 
Columba  set  out,  therefore,  in  the  year  565,  on  the 
longest  journey  he  had  made  since  his  landing  in 
Iona,  a  journey  by  land  and  water,  due  north-east, 
straight  up  that  wonderful  valley,  the  Glen  Mor 
nan  Albin,  the  '  Great  Glen  of  Alba ',  with  its  long, 
narrow,   strung-out   lakes,    Lochs   Linnhe,    Lochy 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS  xxxiii 

and  Ness,  now  united  in  a  continuous  watercourse 
by  the  Caledonian  Canal.  His  companions  were 
St.  Comgall  and  St.  Canice,  Irish  Picts,  who  would 
feel  more  at  home  with  King  Brude  than  would 
Columba.  St.  Adamnan  tells  us  how  King  Brude 
barred  his  gates  against  the  Mission,  how  the 
Druids  opposed  Columba  in  every  possible  way, 
and  how,  eventually,  the  Cross  triumphed  in  that 
far  distant  citadel  of  Paganism.  Those  whom  the 
legions  of  the  Caesars  could  not  subdue  by  the 
sword  were  brought  under  the  yoke  of  Christ  by 
these  few  dauntless,  unarmed  missionaries.  The 
peril  and  the  toil  were  great.  '  It  was  a  daring 
adventure',  says  Mr.  Morrison  {Columba:  His  Life 
and  Ti?nes),  '  full  of  hazard,  thus  to  pierce  into  the 
heart  of  Pictland.  It  called  for  undaunted  courage 
and  resource  and  unwavering  trust  in  the  leader. 
Yet  how  few  of  the  travellers  who  pass  through 
that  glen  to  day — with  its  deep  lochs  and  its  dark 
and  solemn  forests  and  all  its  mystery  of  light 
and  shadow — know  anything  of  the  little  band  of 
heroes  who  threaded  it  so  many  centuries  ago? 
And  what  was  the  heathen  faith  which  these 
Soldiers  of  Christ  overthrew  ?  We  often  hear  it 
spoken  of  as  Druidism,  and  Columba  was  certainly 
opposed  at  King  Brude's  court,  as  Adamnan  tells 
us,  by  Druids  or  Magi,  men  who  were  credited 
with  powers  over  the  spiritual  world.  But  the 
elaborate  Druidism  that  Caesar  and  Pliny  tell  of, 
with  its  hierarchies  and  its  human  sacrifices  and 
its  sacred  mistletoe  and  its  serpent  egg — of  all 
that  there  is  not  one  trace  in  Scotland.     It  was  a 


xxxiv      LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

vague  dread  of  innumerable  spirits  ;  the  world  of 
Nature  was  quivering  with  life  ;  in  every  spring 
and  well  there  was  a  spirit,  in  every  loch  there 
lived  some  dreaded  being.  When  the  echoes  of 
thunder  rolled  through  the  mountain  corries,  or 
when  the  wild  storm  beat  the  forests  of  oak,  voices 
from  the  Great  Mystery  were  speaking.'  It  was 
a  worship  of  the  living  powers  of  Nature — a  sort 
of  fetishism,  Professor  Skene  calls  it,  which 
peopled  all  the  objects  of  nature  with  malignant 
beings,  to  whose  agency  its  phenomena  were 
attributed,  and  the  Magi  or  Druids  exercised 
great  influence  among  the  people  from  a  belief 
that  they  were  able  through  their  aid  to  practise  a 
species  of  magic  or  witchcraft,  which  might  either 
be  used  to  benefit  those  who  sought  their  assistance, 
or  to  injure  those  to  whom  they  were  opposed. 
To  Columba  these  living  powers  of  nature  were 
real  demons,  to  be  overcome  by  the  power  of  the 
true  God. 

Here,  then,  among  the  Picts  as  well  as  in  the 
islands,  Columba  and  his  followers  worked  inde- 
fatigably  for  many  years.  '  Everywhere  they 
preached,  instructed  and  baptized ;  everywhere 
they  planted  churches  and  schools,  and  every- 
where their  preaching  was  confirmed  by  miracles. 
The  islands  round  were  evangelized  in  turn.  The 
Orkneys  and  Shetlands,  the  Hebrides  and  the 
Faroes  heard  and  accepted  the  Gospel.  On  dis- 
tant Iceland  missions  were  established,  and  even 
within  the  lifetime  of  its  great  founder,  Iona  was 
able  to   send   forth   missionaries   to  the   English 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS   xxxv 

kingdom  of  Northumbria,  to  the  Isle  of  Man,  and 
to  South  Britain.  It  had  its  fleet  of  boats  to  visit 
the  various  groups  of  islands  and  make  their  way 
up  the  bays.  With  Cormac,  the  most  skilled  and 
daring  of  the  monk  navigators  [see  the  remark- 
able account  of  his  voyage  to  the  North,  in  Book 
II.  ch.  xlii.],  the  venerable  Abbot  traversed  the 
sombre  gulfs  and  straits  regardless  of  danger,  un- 
sparing of  toil.5    (Golden.) 

A.D.  574.  AEDHAN  IS  ORDAINED  KING  OF  BRITISH 
DALRIADA  BY   COLUMBA  AT   IONA. 

During  the  first  ten  years  of  his  missionary  labours 
in  North  Britain,  Columba  not  only  established  his 
ecclesiastical  influence  and  jurisdiction  far  and 
wide,  on  the  mainland  and  in  the  isles,  but  also 
asserted  himself  as  a  statesman.  It  must  be  re- 
membered that  the  effects  of  his  mission  were 
largely  political  as  well  as  religious  ;  his  royal 
blood,  his  connection  with  many  of  the  noblest 
families  of  Ireland,  his  kinship  with  the  great  Irish 
colony  of  Dalriada  in  North  Britain  (in  what  is 
now  Argyle)  made  him  an  important  factor  in  the 
history  of  northern  Britain.  An  event  now  occurred 
which  shows  to  what  a  height  the  power  of  Columba 
had  attained.  Conall,  son  of  Comgall,  King  of  the 
British  Dalriada,  died  in  the  year  574,  and,  ac- 
cording to  the  ancient  law,  he  should  have  been 
succeeded  by  his  cousin  Eogan,  whose  claim  was 
favoured  by  Columba.  Adamnan  tells  us,  however 
(in  Book  III.  ch.  v.),  how  in  a  vision  Columba 


xxxvi      LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

was  directed  to  ordain  another  cousin  of  ConalFs, 
Aedhan,  and  upon  Columba's  making  this  known — 
and,  as  Skene  says,  there  was  no  gainsaying  such  a 
statement  by  one  in  Columba's  position — Aedhan 
came  to  Iona  and  was  there  ordained  King  of 
Dalriada  by  Columba — the  earliest  recorded  instance 
of  a  royal  coronation  in  Great  Britain.  The  fact 
of  Aidan  going  to  Iona  for  consecration  shows  at 
once  the  importance  of  Columba  and  the  already 
established  sanctity  of  the  island.  Historians  have 
especially  noticed  in  Adamnan's  narrative  the  use 
of  the  term  or  dinar e  rege7n — to  ordain  the  king. 
The  fact  that  St.  Columba  laid  his  hand  on  King 
Aidan's  head,  indicates  the  affinity  between  the 
sacring  of  a  king  and  the  ordination  of  a  priest,  and 
shows  that  the  imposition  of  hands  was  part  of  the 
ceremonial  of  the  consecration  of  a  king  in  the 
seventh  century. 


A.D.   575.      THE  CONVENTION   OF  DRUMCEATT. 

In  the  year  575,  Aedh,  son  of  Ainmire,  King  of 
Ireland,  summoned  a  great  Convention  to  be  held 
at  Drumceatt,  a  long  mound  on  the  river  Roe,  near 
Newtownlimavaddy,  in  the  county  of  Londonderry. 
It  is  now  called  the  Mullagh,  or  Daisy  Hill.  All 
the  minor  kings  and  heads  of  tribes,  and  the 
principal  clergy  of  Ireland,  St.  Columba,  and  the 
newly-consecrated  King  of  Dalriada,  Aidan,  were 
present.  Present  also  was  the  chief  of  the  famous 
Bards  of  Ireland,  Dalian  Forgaill,  afterwards  Saint 
Dalian,  a  man  of  illustrious  ancestry,  who  wrote 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS  xxxvii 

a  poem  entitled  '  Amhra  Choluim  Chille ' — '  The 
Praises  of  Columba ' — still  extant  in  manuscript.  In 
this  poem  it  is  stated  that  Columba' s  company  con- 
sisted of  forty  priests,  twenty  bishops  of  noble  worth, 
thirty  deacons,  and  fifty  youths,  and  that  the  reasons 
for  which  he  came  to  the  Convention  were  three  : 
(i)  for  the  releasing  of  Scannlan  Mor,  son  of 
Cennfasladh,  King  of  Ossory,  in  Leinster,  a 
hostage  in  the  hands  of  Aedh,  Columba  being 
surety  for  him  that  he  would  be  released  at  the 
end  of  a  year  ;  (2)  for  the  staying  of  the  poets  in 
Ireland — for  they  were  under  sentence  of  banish- 
ment on  account  of  their  burdensomeness  ;  (3)  for 
pacification  between  the  men  of  Ireland  and  Alban 
about  Dalriada.  In  all  these  objects  Columba 
was  successful. 


SCANNLAN   THE  THIRSTY 

The  account  of  the  release  of  Scannlan  is  one  of 
the  most  curious  passages  in  the  Old  Irish  Life  of 
Columba.  The  end  of  the  year  found  Scannlan 
still  a  prisoner  in  the  hands  of  Aedh.  '  He  was 
not  released,  and  no  hostage  was  accepted  in  his 
stead.  And  a  wicker  hut  was  constructed  round 
him,  without  any  passage  out  of  it  save  a  way 
through  which  a  little  salted  food  and  a  small 
allowance  of  ale  used  to  be  given  to  him.  And 
fifty  warriors  were  used  to  be  around  the  hut,  out- 
side, guarding  him.  And  there  were  nine  chains 
upon  him  in  the  hut.  And  when  he  would  see 
anyone   going   past,  what   he  would   say  is :   "A 


xxxviii     LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

drink",  says  he.  And  this  thing  was  reported  to 
Columkille  to  Hii  (Iona),  and  he  wept  greatly  at 
what  he  heard ;  and  this  it  was  that  brought  him 
quickly  from  the  East.'  When  at  the  Convention 
Columba  demanded  the  release  of  Scannlan.  '  I 
shall  not  release  him',  said  King  Aedh,  'until  he 
dies  in  the  hut  in  which  he  is';  whereupon  the 
Saint  said,  'We  will  not  pursue  the  subject  further, 
but,  if  it  be  pleasing  to  God,  may  it  be  he  that 
shall  take  off  my  shoes  to-night  at  Matins  in 
whatsoever  place  I  may  be.'  Then  Columba  left 
the  Convention  and  went  to  the  Dubh-regles,  the 
Black  Abbey  Church,  at  Derry.  Not  long  after 
his  departure  a  thunderbolt  fell  among  the  mem- 
bers of  the  assembly  on  the  hill  of  Drumceatt, 
and  they  all  'turned  their  faces  to  the  ground.' 
Scannlan,  set  free  by  an  angel,  made  his  way 
straight  to  the  Black  Church  at  Derry,  and  while 
Columba,  at  Matins,  was  going  past  the  chancel 
screen,  Scannlan  assisted  to  take  off  his  shoes. 
Then  ensues  the  following  strange  dialogue  : — 

Columba  asks,  '  Who  is  this  ? ' 

'  Scannlan ',  answered  he. 

'  Hast  thou  any  news  ?'  asked  Columkille. 

'  A  drink ',  said  Scannlan. 

'  Hast    thou    brought    us    a    blessing  ? '    asked 
Columkille. 

'  A  drink ',  said  Scannlan. 

'  Say  how  earnest  thou  ?'  said  Columkille. 

'  A  drink ',  said  Scannlan. 

Columba  loses  patience,  and  utters  the  impreca- 
tion : — 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS    xxxix 

'  Delay  in  answering  attend  thy  successors  ! ' 

'  Speak  not  so ',  said  Scannlan.  '  Thou  shalt 
always  have  their  rents  and  their  tributes  and 
customs.' 

The  Saint  is  pacified,  and  exclaims, '  May  bishops 
and  kings  be  of  thy  race  for  ever  !  Here  is  one 
drink  for  thee,  to  wit,  a  vessel  of  ale  containing 
enough  for  three.' 

Scannlan  then  lifted  the  vessel  between  his  two 
hands  and  drank  the  contents  in  one  drink.  And 
he  afterwards  ate  his  meal,  to  wit,  seven  joints  of 
old  bacon  and  ten  wheaten  cakes  ;  after  which  he 
lay  down  and  [it  is  not  surprising  to  learn]  was 
three  days  and  three  nights  in  one  sleep.  He  then 
arose,  and  was  conducted  to  Ossory,  and  the  great 
bachall  [crozier]  was  sent  with  him.  The  day  he 
arrived  was  the  day  his  father,  the  King  of  Ossory, 
died  through  grief  for  him.  And  he  afterwards 
assumed  the  kingship  of  Ossory,  and  granted  a 
tribute  from  the  Ossorians  every  seventh  year  from 
that  day  to  Columkille.  And  it  is  in  this  wise 
that  Scannlan  was  released. 

It  should  be  noted,  in  connection  with  this  quaint 
narrative,  which  bears  upon  it  the  stamp  of  human 
nature  and  of  veracity,  that  Scannlan  was  not  only 
imprisoned  but  tortured,  for  his  diet  of  salted  food 
with  a  '  small  allowance '  (the  Celtic  word  is  teirci, 
lit.  '  scarcity ')  of  ale,  can  only  be  regarded  in  that 
light.  Hence  his  intolerable  thirst,  his  appeals  to 
the  passers-by,  and  his  reiteration  of  '  drink,  drink ' 
when  he  was  kneeling — half  dead,  no  doubt,  from 
hunger  and  thirst — to  take  off  Columba's  shoes  at 


xl  LIFE    OF    SAINT    COLUMBA 

the  chancel  screen  of  the  church.  Then,  as  to  the 
impatient  imprecation  of  the  Saint,  that  delay  in 
answering,  i.e.  hesitation  of  speech  or  stuttering, 
might  afflict  his  posterity,  it  is  interesting  to  know 
that  the  tradition  of  [this  imprecation  is  not  yet 
extinct  in  Scannlan's  country  of  Ossory,  and  it  is 
even  asserted  that  stuttering  is  still  a  characteristic 
of  Scannlan's  descendants  |there.  And,  lastly,  the 
interesting  statement  that  the  great  bachull  or 
pastoral  staff  of  Columba  was  sent  with  Scannlan, 
no  doubt  as  a  sign  of  confirmation  of  his  rights, 
tells  surely  of  the  widespread  influence  and 
authority  of  the  Saint.  '  He  handed  over  to  him 
[Scannlan]  his  crook  as  a  sure  staff  in  slippery 
places  and  a  safeguard  njevery  adversity ;  faith- 
fully promising  in  the  Lord^that  by  its  help,  Christ 
granting  it  that  virtue,  he  should  come  safe  and 
sound  out  of  the  dangers  that  beset  him  ;  and 
admonishing  him  that  he  should  eventually  send 
back  the  staff  to  St.  Laisren,  his  disciple,  then 
ruler  of  the  Monastery  of  Durrow.' 

THE   'STAYING'   OF  THE   BARDS. 

The  burdensomeness  of  the  poets  arose  from 
the  fact,  as  Dalian  (the  Ollamh,  or  chief  poet)  tells 
us,  that  there  used  to  be  thirty  of  them  in  the 
company  of  each  Ollamh,  and  fifteen  in  that  of  each 
Anrad,  or  poet  of  the  second  rank  ;  and  that  they 
had  a  right  to  exact  coinmed  or  refection  from  the 
tribes  for  themselves  and  their  retinue.  Columba, 
himself  a  poet  and   probably  a   member   of   the 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS    xli 

Bardic  Fraternity,  naturally  sympathized  with 
them.  Dalian  Forgaill  tells  us  that  the  influence 
of  Columba  '  stayed  the  poets ',  he  having  praised 
their  profession  to  King  Aedh.  The  sentence  of 
banishment  was  revoked  on  condition  that  the 
right  to  exact  refection  was  amended,  and  the 
retinue  reduced  to  twenty-four  for  each  head  poet 
and  twelve  for  each  minor  poet.  By  this  the  Bards 
lost  much  of  their  early  importance,  but  they  were 
saved  from  extinction,  and  a  great  national  Irish 
institution  was  preserved.  The  Bards  'continued 
for  centuries  to  perambulate  the  country,  to  praise 
or  satirize  kings,  lords,  and  squires,  farmers  and 
ecclesiastics,  till,  in  the  present  reign  (Victoria's), 
their  last  representatives  were  reduced,  in  the 
general  ruin  of  the  literature  of  Ireland,  to  a  chair 
by  the  kitchen  fire  in  winter,  and  a  meal  on  the 
doorstep  in  summer.'    (Norman  Moore.) 


AMHRA  COLUMKILLE  :    THE  PRAISE  OF  COLUMBA. 

Dalian  Forgaill,  as  chief  of  all  the  Bards,  ex- 
pressed his  and  their  gratitude  to  St.  Columba  by 
composing  in  his  praise  and  honour  the  Amhra 
Columkille,  a  poem  which  was  held  in  the  utmost 
reverence  in  Ireland  for  centuries. 

The  high  estimation  in  which  Columba  was  held 
by  the  Bards  is  shown  by  a  passage  in  the  Amhra, 
in  which  Dalian  tells  us  that  the  twelve  hundred 
poets  who  were  at  the  Convention,  when  they  came 
into  the  assembly  brought  with  them  a  poem  of 
praise  for  him,  that  they  sang  it  with  music  and 


xlii         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

chorus,  'and  a  surpassing  music  it  was' — so  im- 
pressive, apparently,  that  the  Saint  himself  felt 
sudden  emotions  of  complacency  and  gave  way  to 
vanity.  Baithene,  one  of  his  companions,  who 
was  standing  by,  beheld  a  great  troop  of  scoffing 
demons  in  the  sky  above.  He  directed  Columba's 
attention  to  them.  The  Saint,  smitten  to  the  heart, 
covered  his  head  with  his  cowl  and  did  penance. 
The  demons  fled.  But  Columba  forbade  his  praises 
to  be  further  produced  or  published,  adding  that 
no  one  should  be  praised  in  a  life  which  might  end 
badly,  that  he  alone  who  had  run  well  and  ended 
his  race  successfully  should  be  praised  after  death. 
'And  Columbkille  promised  to  Dalian  the  gifts 
and  products  of  the  earth  for  this  praising  :  but  he 
took  not  them,  but  heaven,  for  himself,  and  for 
every  one  who  would  recite  it  each  day,  and 
would  understand  it  between  sense  and  sound.  i\s 
a  certain  one  said  : 

Columb's  Amhra — every  day 

Whoever  will  recite  it  completely 

Will  reach  the  good  bright  kingdom 
Which  God  granted  to  Dalian.' 

THE  MOTHER  COUNTRY  AND  HER  COLONY 

The  third  object  of  Columba  in  attending  the 
Convention  of  Drumceatt  was  the  future  of  Dal- 
riada,  the  Irish  Colony  in  North  Britain,  and  how 
far  the  colony,  now  that  Columba  had  ordained 
Aidan  as  king  over  it,  should  be  made  independent 
of  the  mother  country.     'As  a  colony  or  subject 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS    xliii 

state5,  says  Dr.  Skene,  'it  was  liable  to  the  same 
burdens  as  were  exacted  from  all  the  petty  princi- 
palities in  Ireland.  These  consisted  in  the  pay- 
ment of  certain  rents  and  tributes  known  as  cam 
and  cobach,  and  certain  military  services  which 
consisted  of  what  was  called  fecht,  or  the  obligation 
of  joining  the  superior  king  in  expeditions,  and 
sloged,  or  "  hosting ",  taking  part  in  the  general 
levy  of  the  country  for  war.'  Columba  assigned 
to  Colman,  son  of  Comgellan,  who  accompanied 
him  to  the  Convention,  the  duty  of  delivering  the 
judgment  between  the  men  of  Erin  and  the  men  of 
Alba.  And  Colman  delivered  it  thus :  The  expedi- 
tions and  hostings  to  be  with  the  men  of  Erin 
always,  for  '  hostings '  always  belong  to  the  parent 
stock.  Their  tributes  and  gains  and  shipping  to 
be  with  the  men  of  Alba.  And  when  one  of  the 
men  of  Erin  or  Alba  should  come  from  the  East, 
the  Dalriada  to  entertain  them,  whether  few  or 
many,  and  the  Dalriada  to  convey  them  on  if  they 
require  it.  Thus  the  colony  was  freed  from  all 
tribute  to  the  supreme  king  of  Ireland,  but  was  to 
join  in  expeditions  or  '  hostings ',  with  the  exception 
of  maritime  expeditions  ;  King  Aidan  of  Dalriada 
became  independent,  and  his  country  was  no  longer 
a  subject  state  to  Ireland.  It  is  probable  that 
when  Columba  returned  to  Iona  he  obtained  from 
his  friend,  King  Brude,  a  recognition  of  Aidan  as 
an  independent  king.  The  results  of  this  treaty 
were  great.  Ireland  and  her  great  colony  in  Britain 
were  pledged  to  mutual  assistance  against  Saxon, 
Dane,  and  Norseman,  an  alliance  which  continued 


xliv         LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

for  centuries,  and  a  friendship  was  cemented  be- 
tween the  Saints  and  scholars  of  Erin  and  Alba. 
Irish  missionaries  aided  in  developing  the  institu- 
tions of  the  colony,  and  in  conveying  the  blessings 
of  religion  to  every  portion  of  northern  Britain  and 
the  northern  provinces  of  the  English. 

A.D.   C.    579.   THE   BATTLE  OF  COLERAINE. 

In  577  died  St.  Brendan  of  Clonfert,  who  had 
often  visited  the  islands  and  had  been  a  guest  of 
St.  Columba  in  his  monastery  of  Hinba  [Eilean- 
na-Naoimh,  one  of  the  Garvelloch  islands  off  the 
coast  of  Argyle],  with  three  other  Abbots,  as  re- 
lated by  Adamnan,  Book  II.  ch.  xvii. ;  and  in  579 
St.  Finnian,  of  Moville,  one  of  St.  Columba's  early 
preceptors,  was  lost  to  him  by  death. 

It  was  in  about  that  year,  579,  that  a  controversy 
arose  between  St.  Columba  and  St.  Comgall  about 
the  church  of  Ross-Torathair,  near  Coleraine.  The 
dispute  was  taken  up  by  their  respective  clans,  the 
Hy  Neill  of  St.  Columba  and  the  Dal-Araidhe  of 
St.  Comgall,  aad  a  battle — the  battle  of  Cul- 
Rathain  (Coleraine)  —  was  fought.  Dr.  Reeves 
says  it  is  very  possible  that  some  collision  did  take 
place  between  the  Saints  about  jurisdiction,  as  St. 
Comgall's  abbey  church  of  Camus  was  close  to 
Coleraine,  and  St.  Columba  is  recorded  to  have 
been  occasionally  in  that  neighbourhood  (as  in 
Adamnan,  Book  I.  ch.  1.),  and  besides,  the  territory 
west  of  Coleraine  was  the  debateable  ground 
between  the  two  clans.  It  is  not  known  which 
was  victorious  in  the  fight. 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS   xlv 

A.D.   C.    585.     COLUMBA  AGAIN   IN   IRELAND. 

It  was  in  about  the  year  585  that,  as  Adamnan 
tells  us,  Columba  visited  the  monasteries  of  Durrow, 
his  own  foundation  of  553,  and  St.  Kiaran's  monas- 
tery of  Clonmacnoise,  which  afterwards  rose  to 
the  highest  importance  as  a  seat  of  religion  and 
culture  in  Ireland. 

A.D.    587.      THE  BATTLE  OF  CUILFEDHA. 

In  587  there  was  a  third  battle  in  Ireland,  in 
which  St.  Columba  was  also  concerned,  and  about 
which  an  ancient  verse  is  quoted  in  the  annals  : 

Broken  was,  as  has  ben  told, 

For  Colum's  sake,  in  the  famous  battle 

The  bestower  of  jewels. 

The  battle  fought  at  Cuilfedha,  near  Clonard,  was 
between  the  northern  and  southern  branches  of 
the  Hy-Neill.  The  cause  of  it  is  thus  given  in 
Keating's  History  (1629):  'This  was  the  cause 
that  occasioned  the  fighting  of  the  battle  of  Cuil 
Feadha  [by  Aedh]  against  Colman  Mac  Diarmada, 
namely,  in  revenge  for  his  having  been  outraged  in 
the  case  of  Baodan,  son  of  Finneadh,  King  of 
Erin,  who  was  killed  by  Cuimin,  son  of  Colman,  at 
Leim-an-eich,  in  violation  of  the  sanctuary  of 
Colum.'  Aedh  was  the  victor  in  the  battle,  and 
Colman,  his  adversary,  was  slain,  with  five  thousand 
of  his  men. 


xlvi        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

THE   'ALTUS'   OF  COLUMBA. 

Now  with  regard  to  these  three  battles  in  which 
Columba  is  said  to  have  been  concerned — namely, 
Cul-Dreimhne  in  561,  Coleraine  in  577,  and 
Cuilfedha  in  587 — there  is  in  existence  partly  pre- 
served in  the  ancient  manuscript  the  Leabhar 
Breac — 'the  Speckled  Book' — a  fine  hymn  com- 
posed by  St.  Columba  known  from  its  opening 
words  as  the  'Altus'  of  Columba.  The  preface 
to  the  hymn,  which  is  in  a  mixture  of  Latin  and 
Irish,  gives  two  different  accounts  of  the  circum- 
stances under  which  the  hymn  was  written :  '  The 
cause  was  because  he  was  desirous  of  praising 
God.  For  seven  years  he  was  searching  out  this 
Hymn  in  the  Black  Cell  (the  Dubh  regies,  Columba' s 
church  in  Derry)  without  light — that  is,  beseeching 
forgiveness  for  the  battle  of  Cuil  Dremhne  which 
he  had  gained  over  Diarmait  son  of  Cerball  [King 
of  Ireland,  544-65],  and  the  other  battles  that  were 
gained  on  his  account?  According  to  the  other, 
but  not  so  probable,  version,  the  hymn  was  com- 
posed in  Iona  while  Columba  was  carrying  corn  to 
the  mill  and  watching  its  grinding.  The  tradition 
is  a  constant  one  that  the  strife  and  bloodshed  of 
Cuil  Dremhne  had  something  to  do  with  Columba's 
leaving  Ireland.  Dr.  Reeves,  in  speaking  of  the 
martial  propensities  of  St.  Columba,  reminds  us 
that  we  must  bear  in  mind  the  complexion  of  the 
times  in  which  he  lived  and  the  peculiar  condition 
of  society  in  his  day,  which  required  even  women 
to   enter  battle  and  justified  ecclesiastics   in  the 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS    xlvii 

occasional  exercise  of  warfare.  It  was  not  till 
the  year  804  that  the  monastic  communities  of 
Ireland  were  formally  exempted  from  military 
service,  though  Columba  himself,  and  Adamnan 
after  him,  brought  about  the  emancipation  of  women 
from  the  obligation  to  fight  alongside  of  their 
husbands  and  sons.  If  we  may  judge  from  the 
biographical  records  which  have  descended  to  us, 
says  Dr.  Reeves,  primitive  Irish  ecclesiastics,  and 
especially  the  superior  class,  were  very  impatient 
of  contradiction  and  very  resentful  of  injury. 
Giraldus  Cambrensis,  who  went  to  Ireland  in  1185 
as  secretary  to  Prince  John,  son  of  Henry  II.,  and 
collected  there  the  materials  for  his  Topography 
of  Ireland,  devotes  one  of  his  chapters  to  the 
irascibility  of  the  Irish  in  general  and  their  Saints 
in  particular,  and  he  accounts  for  it  from  the  fact 
that,  as  there  were  no  great  castles  in  the  land, 
the  churches  were  fortified  and  served  as  places  of 
refuge  from  the  bands  of  marauders  of  which  the 
country  was  full.  'By  Divine  Providence',  says 
Giraldus,  'there  was  frequent  need  that  the  Church 
should  visit  her  enemies  with  the  severest  chastise- 
ments, this  being  the  only  mode  by  which  evil- 
doers and  impious  men  could  be  deterred  from 
breaking  the  peace  of  ecclesiastical  societies.'  St. 
Columba,  it  must  always  be  remembered,  was 
a  man  of  royal  birth,  and  naturally  could  not 
accept  injuries  or  affronts  in  silence  ;  allied  as  he 
was  to  the  leaders  in  the  three  battles,  and  interested 
in  the  result  of  their  fighting,  it  could  not  be  ex- 
pected in  a  country  where  civil  faction  was,  so  to 


xlviii      LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

speak,  a  part  of  its  very  constitution  that  Columba 
could  look  on  with  indifference.  He  was  not  only 
Abbot,  but  also  Statesman. 

So  much,  then,  for  Columba's  connection  with 
the  military  events  of  his  life.  As  to  what  manner 
of  man  he  was  as  Abbot  and  Saint,  a  fairly  com- 
plete idea  can  be  obtained  from  the  narrative  of 
Adamnan,  and  particularly  from  the  latter  part  of 
his  Second  Preface,  while  in  the  'Lives  of  the  Saints,5 
given  by  Colgan  in  the  Acta  Sanctorum^  are  many 
other  details  which  are  an  additional  evidence  of 
his  piety  and  holiness.  He  would  bathe  the  feet  of 
the  Brethren  after  their  daily  labour,  he  would 
carry  the  bags  of  flour  from  the  mill  to  the  kitchen, 
he  subjected  himself  to  great  austerities,  sleeping 
on  a  hide  spread  on  the  ground,  with  a  stone  for 
pillow,  most  strict  and  constant  in  fasting,  in 
prayer,  in  meditation. 


ST.   COLUMBA  AS   BARD. 

St.  Adamnan  mentions  in  his  biography  that  St. 
Columba  spent  much  of  his  time  in  writing — that  is, 
transcribing  the  Scriptures  and  the  Psalter.  It  is 
stated  also  in  the  Old  Irish  Life  of  the  Saint  that 
he  transcribed  'three  hundred  splendid,  lasting 
books  ',  and  if  the  famous  manuscripts — the 
'  Cathach ',  a  Psalter  (in  the  Library  of  the 
Royal  Irish  Academy),  and  the  '  Book  of  Durrow,' 
the  Gospels  (in  the  Library  of  Trinity  College, 
Dublin) — be,  as  many  think,  the  work  of  Columba 
himself,  the  epithets  '  splendid   and   lasting '   are 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     xlix 

amply  justified.  But  St.  Columba  was  not,  like 
most  monks,  a  transcriber  of  the  Scriptures  only, 
he  was,  as  has  already  been  said,  a  poet,  and  in  all 
probability  a  member  of  the  Order  of  Bards  : — 

Thrice  fifty  noble  lays  the  apostle  made 
Whose  miracles  are  more  numerous  than  grass  ; 
Some  in  Latin  which  were  beguiling, 
Some  in  Gaelic,  fair  the  tale. 

That  is  the  Saint's  literary  record  as  handed 
down  in  the  Old  Irish  Life  ;  but  of  all  these  poems 
only  a  few  have  come  down  to  us  which  can  with 
any  likelihood  be  assigned  to  St.  Columba.  There 
are  attributed  to  him  three  Latin  hymns — 'Altus 
Prosator,'  'In  te  Christe,'  and  'Noli  Pater' — each  of 
which  is  accompanied  by  a  preface  in  Irish  and 
Latin  describing  the  circumstances  under  which  it 
was  written.  All  were  printed  in  his  Acta  Sanc- 
torum, by  Colgan  (1645),  and  they  were  reprinted 
and  edited  by  Dr.  J.  H.  Todd  for  the  Irish  Archaeo- 
logical and  Celtic  Society  (1869).  The  original 
manuscript  used  by  Colgan  is  at  St.  Isidore's  in 
Rome,  and  there  is  another  manuscript,  the  one 
used  by  Dr.  Todd,  the  Liber  Hymnorum,  in  the 
Library  of  Trinity  College,  Dublin.  The  '  Altus '  is 
also  found  in  the  fifteenth-century  manuscript,  the 
Leabhar  Breac,  the  '  Speckled  Book ',  in  the 
Library  of  the  Royal  Irish  Academy,  and  it  has 
been  edited,  with  a  prose  translation,  by  the  late 
Marquess  of  Bute.  Dr.  Todd  says  of  the  '  Altus  ; 
that  '  there  cannot  be  a  doubt  that  the  Hymn  is  of 
considerable   antiquity,   and   that  it  is    Irish.      It 


1  LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

quotes  in  many  places  a  Latin  Version  of  the 
Scriptures  older  than  the  recension  of  St.  Jerome 
[the  Vulgate].  It  is  written  in  a  barbaric  style,  with 
many  words  of  rare  occurrence,  some  of  them  un- 
known even  to  the  researches  of  Du  Cange.' 
The  authorship  of  the  poem,  as  the  Marquess  of 
Bute  observes,  is  ascribed  by  an  apparently  un- 
broken tradition  to  Columba,  and  does  not  seem 
open  to  any  serious  doubt ;  it  may  be  held  to  be 
confirmed,  he  says,  by  what  little  internal  evidence 
the  poem  offers ;  and  as  regards  its  intrinsic  merits, 
he  thinks  that  portions  of  it  would  not  suffer  by 
comparison  with  the  grand 'Dies  Iras' of  Thomas 
of  Celano,  the  friend  and  biographer  of  St.  Francis 
of  Assisi.  Here,  by  way  of  example  and  com- 
parison, are  two  of  the  stanzas  of  the  '  Altus '  done 
in  prose  : — 

The  Day  of  the  King  of  Kings  most  righteous  is  at 
hand,  the  Day  of  the  Lord,  the  Day  of  Wrath  and 
Vengeance,  of  darkness  and  clouds,  and  a  Day  of 
thunderings  mighty  and  loud,  a  Day  of  distress,  of 
lamentation  and  sorrow,  in  which  shall  cease  the  love 
and  desire  of  women  and  the  strife  of  men  and  the 
lust  of  this  world. 

We  shall  be  standing  trembling  before  the  Tribunal 
of  the  Lord,  and  we  shall  give  an  account  of  all  our 
deeds,  beholding  also  our  crimes  set  before  our  eyes, 
and  the  Books  of  Conscience  laid  open  before  our 
faces.  Into  most  bitter  weeping  and  sobbing  shall 
we  break  forth — having  no  longer  the  wherewithal 
to  work. 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     li 

Having  no  longer  the  wherewithal  to  work ! 
There  surely  is  a  touch  of  Columba,  of  whom 
Adamnan  says  that  he  could  not  bear  to  be  idle. 
'  He  could  not  pass  the  space  even  of  a  single  hour 
without  applying  himself  either  to  prayer,  or  read- 
ing, or  writing,  or  else  to  some  manual  labour.' 
Besides  these  Latin  hymns,  there  are  various 
ancient  poems  in  his  own  native  Irish  tongue 
ascribed  to  St.  Columba.  Four  are  given  by  Dr. 
Reeves  in  Irish  and  English:  'The  Dialogue  of 
Columkille  and  Cormac  in  Hy  (Iona),  after  escaping 
from  the  Coire  Brecain  (the  dangerous  channel 
between  Ballycastle  and  Rathlin  Island),  and  after 
searching  the  boundless  ocean  until  he  reached 
the  Cold  Region  (the  Arctic  Circle) ',  as  told  in  the 
Voyage  of  Cormac,  Adamnan  II.  ch.  xlii.  ;  and 
another,  'The  Song  of  Columkille  when  Cormac 
came  to  him  from  his  own  country' ;  another,  a  song 
of  Columkille,  '  It  were  delightful,  O  Son  of  my 
God '  ;  and  a  fourth  on  the  occasion  of  his  depar- 
ture from  Durrow  for  the  last  time, '  Beloved  the  ex- 
cellent seven.'  Besides,  there  are  printed  Columba's 
'  Farewell  to  Aran '  ( Transactions  of  the  Gaelic 
Society,  Dnbli7i,  iSo<5),  and  one  said  to  have  been 
written  on  his  flight  from  King  Diarmait  {Miscellany 
of  the  Irish  Archceological  Society).  Besides  these 
printed  poems,  there  are  poems  bearing  Columba's 
name  in  one  of  the  O'Clery  Manuscripts  in  the 
Burgundian  Library  at  Brussels,  and  a  large  col- 
lection in  the  manuscript  entitled  '  Laud  615  '  in  the 
Bodleian  Library  at  Oxford.  Of  this  last  collection, 
Dr.   Reeves  says  that  it  comprises  everything  in 


lii  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

the  shape  of  poem  or  fragment  that  could  be 
called  Columba's  which  industry  was  able  to  scrape 
together  in  the  middle  of  the  sixteenth  century. 
Finally  must  be  mentioned  the  Rule  of  St.  Columba, 
of  which  the  manuscript  exists  in  the  Burgundian 
Library  of  Brussels,  but  which  is  not  really  a  sys- 
tematic Rule  like  St.  Benedict's,  but  rather  a  col- 
lection of  maxims,  by  some  later  Columban  monk 
for  the  use  of  hermits. 

HIS  GRACE— HIS   SOUL — HIS   BODY. 

In  that  same  precious  Old  Irish  Life  of  St. 
Columba,  handed  down  to  us  in  the  Leabhar 
Breac,  and  held  in  high  esteem  by  all  Irishmen 
from  the  day  it  was  written,  a  thousand  years 
ago,  there  are  quoted  the  following  lines  upon 
St.  Columba,  made  by  St.  Brechan  : — 

His  grace  in  Hii  (Iona)  without  stain, 
And  his  soul  in  Derry  ; 
And  his  body  under  the  flagstone 
Under  which  are  Brigid  and  Patrick. 

In  those  three  places — Iona,  Derry,  and  Down — 
the  author  of  the  Old  Life  goes  on  to  say,  is  the 
'  full  habitation '  of  Columkille. 

To  Iona  he  gives  his  'stainless  grace' — Iona  the 
remote  isle  of  the  British  Sea,  to  which  he  sailed 
from  his  dearly  loved  Erin  '  to  preach  the  word  of 
God  to  the  men  of  Alba  and  to  the  Britons  and  to 
the  Saxons.' 

To  Derry,  his  soul— Derry,  the  'Oak  Grove', 
where,  in  the  year  546,  he  founded  in  God's  honour 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     liii 

his  best-loved  church,  '  for  he  loved  that  city  very 
much ',  says  the  old  biographer,  '  as  he  said  : — 

"  The  reason  why  I  love  Derry  is 
For  its  quietness,  its  purity, 
For  'tis  full  of  angels  white 
From  one  end  to  the  other.'" 

His  body — under  the  flagstone  with  St.  Patrick 
and  St.  Brigid,  at  Down,  where  for  many  centuries 
rested  the  three  great  Saints  of  Ireland — the  holy 
three,  of  whom  the  triple-leaved  shamrock  is  the 
national  and  spiritual  symbol — until  Lord  Grey, 
Deputy-Governor  of  Ireland  in  1536-7,  in  his  zeal 
for  the  establishing  of  Henry  VIII  as  head  of  the 
Church,  and  for  the  destruction  of  religious  houses, 
gave  the  ancient  church  of  Down  to  the  flames. 
'  He  rode  to  the  north ',  says  Holinshead,  '  and  in 
this  journey  he  razed  Saint  Patrick,  his  church  in 
Downe,  and  burnt  the  monuments  of  Patrick, 
Brigide,  and  Colme  (Columba),  who  are  said  to 
have  been  there  interred.  .  .  .  This  fact  lost  him 
sundry  hearts  in  that  country,  always  after  detest- 
ing the  King  and  Council.'  Grey  was  eventually 
arraigned  and  tried  in  London.  Among  the 
articles  cited  against  him  was  this  one  :  '  Item  : 
That  without  any  warrant  from  the  King  or 
Council  he  profaned  the  church  of  St.  Patrick  in 
Down,  turning  it  to  a  stable  ;  after  plucked  it 
down  and  shipped  the  notable  ring  of  bells  that 
did  hang  in  the  steeple,  meaning  to  have  sent 
them  to  England.'  Grey  perished  by  the  heads- 
man's axe  on  Tower  Hill  in  1541. 


liv  LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 


THE   'FULL   HABITATION'   OF  COLUMBA. 

Not  one  stone  upon  another  remains  of  Columba's 
church  of  Derry,  'my  Deny',  as  he  called  it : — 

My  Derry,  my  little  Oak  Grove, 
My  dwelling,  and  my  little  cell. 

Not  a  trace  remains  of  the  humble  buildings, 
whether  of  timber  and  wattle,  or  of  dry-piled 
stone  of  his  monastery  of  Iona.  No  longer  can 
be  seen  at  Down  the  shrines  of  the  three  great 
Saints  of  Ireland.  Yet  has  Columba  his  'full 
habitation';  what  Adamnan  says  of  him  is  still 
true  :  '  Though  he  lived  in  this  small  and  remote 
island  of  the  British  Sea,  his  name  has  not 
only  become  illustrious  throughout  the  whole 
of  our  own  Ireland  and  Britain,  but  has  reached 
even  to  triangular  Spain,  and  to  Gaul,  and  to 
Italy,  which  lies  beyond  the  Pennine  Alps,  and 
also  to  the  city  of  Rome  itself,  the  head  of  all 
cities.'  Aye  !  and  further,  much  further  has  this 
'  great  and  honourable  celebrity '  extended,  passing 
over  vast  oceans  to  islands  and  continents  of  which 
the  good  Abbot  never  dreamed. 

But  it  is  to  Iona,  that  standpoint  from  which, 
facing  to  the  north,  he  declared  to  the  heathen  the 
Gospel  of  the  Lord,  that  we  turn  with  the  greatest 
affection  and  reverence — Iona,  where  Columba  '  set 
up  his  everlasting  rest',  from  which  he  sent  back 
to  Ireland  a  messenger  bearing  his  benediction  : — 


SUMMARY  OF  PRINCIPAL  EVENTS     lv 

Carry  with  thee,  thou  noble  youth, 

My  blessing  and  my  benediction, 

One  half  upon  Erin,  sevenfold, 

And  half  on  Alba. 

Take  my  blessing  with  thee  to  the  West ; 

Broken  is  my  heart  in  my  breast ; 

Should  sudden  death  overtake  me 

It  is  from  my  great  love  of  the  Gaedhil ; 

Gaedhil !  Gaedhil  !  beloved  name  ! 

'  And  there  was  not  born  of  the  Gaedhil ',  says 
the  old  biographer,  '  a  being  more  illustrious,  or 
more  wise,  or  of  better  family  than  Columkille. 
There  came  not  of  them  any  person  who  was  more 
modest,  more  humble,  or  more  lowly.' 

What  wonder  that  wherever  Gael  or  Briton 
dwelt  the  name  of  this,  one  of  the  greatest  of 
their  race,  is  revered,  Columkille — 'The  Dove  of 
the  Churches ' :  that  to  that  name  they  should 
have  added  many  other  endearing  epithets  :  '  The 
Precious  Gem',  'The  Royal  Bright  Star',  'The 
Wise',  'The  Meek',  'The  Self-denying',  'The 
Divine  Branch,  who  was  in  the  yoke  of  the  Pure 
Mysteries  of  God'? 

What  wonder  that  the  people  of  the  far  Hebri- 
dean  islands  of  Barra  and  South  Uist,  men, 
women,  and  children,  who  still  hold  the  faith 
Columba  held,  to  this  day  invoke  his  aid,  and 
the  aid  of  Mary  and  Michael,  in  their  annual 
Shealing  Hymn  : — 

Thou,  gentle  Michael  of  the  white  steed, 
Who  subdued  the  Dragon  of  blood, 


Ivi  LIFE    OF    SAINT    COLUMBA 

For  love  of  God  and  the  Son  of  Mary 
Spread  over  us  thy  wing,  shield  us  all ! 
Spread  over  us  thy  wing,  shield  us  all  ! 

Mary,  beloved  !  Mother  of  the  White  Lamb, 
Protect  us,  thou  Virgin  of  nobleness, 
Queen  of  beauty  !  Shepherdess  of  the  flocks  ! 
Keep  our  cattle,  surround  us  together, 
Keep  our  cattle,  surround  us  together. 

Thou  Columkille,  the  friendly,  the  kind, 

In  the  name  of  the  Father,  the  Son,  and  the  Spirit 

Holy, 
Through  the  Three-in-One,  through  the  Three, 
Encompass  us,  guard  our  procession, 
Encompass  us,  guard  our  procession. 

Thou  Father  !  Thou  Son  !  Thou  Spirit  Holy  ! 

Be  the  Three-One  with  us  day  and  night, 

On  the  machair  plain,  on  the  mountain  ridge, 

The  Three-One  is  with  us,  with  His  arm  around  our 

head, 
The  Three-One  is  with  us,  with  His  arm  around  our 

head. 

But  the  boatmen  of  Barray  sing  for  the  last  verse : — 

Thou  Father  !  Thou  Son  !  Thou  Spirit  Holy  ! 
Be  the  Three-One  with  us  day  and  night, 
And  on  the  crested  wave,  or  on  the  mountain  side, 
Our  Mother  is  there,  and  Her  arm  is  under  our  head. 
Our  Mother  is  there,  and  Her  arm  is  under  our  head.* 

W.  H. 

*  This  beautiful  folk-song  is  given,  with  others,  in  the  Report 
of  the  Royal  Commission  on  the  Crofters  of  the  Highlands  and 
Islands  of  Scotland,  1884,  in  an  Appendix  by  Mr.  Alexander 
Carmichael,  page  451. 


ST.   ADAMNAN 

A  few  words,  now,  as  to  St.  Adamnan,  whose 
Life  of  St.  Columba  is  herewith  submitted  in  a 
new  translation.  He  was  born  in  624,  twenty- 
seven  years  after  the  death  of  Columba,  in  south- 
western Donegal,  descended  from  Sedna,  an  uncle 
of  Columba,  and  was  brought  up  in  the  monastic 
schools,  and  became  a  monk  under  his  kinsman, 
Seghine,  Abbot  of  Iona.  In  679,  in  his  fifty-fifth 
year,  Adamnan  succeeded  to  the  chair  of  St. 
Columba,  and  to  him  there  came  as  a  refugee  the 
English  Prince  Aldfrith,  who  was  called  the  foster- 
son,  or  alumnus,  of  Adamnan.  When,  eventually, 
Aldfrith  came  to  the  throne  of  Northumbria, 
Adamnan  visited  his  court  —  as  he  tells  us  in 
the  ensuing  narrative — and  presented  to  him  his 
book  De  Locis  Sanctis — '  Upon  the  Holy  Places.' 
Adamnan  was  in  Ireland  in  692,  and  again  in  697, 
on  ecclesiastical  and  political  business,  and  the 
Rath  and  Cross  at  Tara  known  by  his  name  are 
supposed  to  be  connected  with  his  second  visit.  It 
is  thought  that  he  wrote  the  Life  of  St.  Columba 
between  the  two  visits.  Adamnan  seems  to  have 
remained  in  Ireland  until  704,  in  which  year  he 
returned  to  his  monastery  in  Iona,  and  there,  soon 
after,  he  died. 


lviii         LIFE   OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

Of  his  principal  work,  the  Life  of  St.  Columba, 
Dr.  Reeves  has  summed  up  all  that  can  be  said 
against  it  from  the  point  of  view  of  style,  especially 
the  'artificial  interweaving  of  words  in  long  sen- 
tences, and  the  oft-recurring  ablative  absolute  in 
awkward  positions,  the  inflection  of  proper  names 
according  to  the  rules  of  Irish  and  not  Latin 
grammar',  with  other  singularities.  In  fact,  as  the 
Rev.  George  Cormack,  to  whose  kind  assistance 
in  preparing  this  volume  I  have  already  referred, 
expresses  it,  Adamnan  thought  in  Gaelic  and  wrote 
in  Latin.  Apart  from  style,  it  is  easy  to  collect 
from  many  sources  the  praises  of  the  Life  of 
Columba.  Montalembert  calls  it  '  one  of  the  most 
living,  most  attractive,  and  most  authentic  monu- 
ments of  Christian  history ' ;  Bishop  Forbes  de- 
scribes it  as  'the  solitary  record  of  the  history  of 
the  Church  of  Scotland' ;  Pinkerton  thinks  it  'the 
most  complete  piece  of  such  biography  that  all 
Europe  can  boast  of,  not  only  at  so  early  a  period, 
but  throughout  the  Middle  Ages  ' ;  Fowler  ranks  it 
with  Bede's  St.  Cuthbert,  Edduis's  St.  Wilfred, 
and  Jonas's  St.  Columbanus,  as  one  of  the  most 
interesting  and  valuable  early  biographies  extant. 
Dr.  Reeves  considers  it  one  of  the  most  important 
pieces  of  hagiology  in  existence ;  the  Duke  of 
Argyle  says  that  in  it  is  to  be  found  '  not  only  the 
firm  foothold  of  history,  but  the  vivid  portraiture  of 
an  individual  man.  Not  one  historical  character 
of  time  is  in  any  similar  degree  known  to  us.' 

Adamnan's  work  is  in  three  books,  to  the  first  of 
which  there  are  two  Prefaces.     The  first  book  is 


SAINT   ADAMNAN  lxix 

upon  the  Saint's  Prophetic  Revelations,  the  Second 
upon  his  Miracles,  the  third,  up  to  the  twenty- third 
chapter,  upon  Angelic  Visitations,  and  in  the 
twenty-third  chapter  we  have  to  the  end  one  of 
the  most  exquisite  pieces  of  pure  biography  ever 
written,  not  to  be  surpassed,  indeed,  in  the  whole 
range  of  ancient  biography — simple,  dignified, 
pathetic — a  very  gem  of  literature. 

W.  H. 


ADAMNAN'S   SAIiNT   COLUMBA 
BOOK  I 


ANCIENT    ORATORY    ON    THE    ISLAND    OF    INCHCOLM,    FIRTH    OF    FORTH 


BELL   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 
(SEE   BOOK    I.    CHAP.    VIII.) 


BELL   OF   SAINT   PATRICK 
(SEE   BOOK    I.    CHAP.    VIII.) 


THE    LIFE    OF 

SAINT   COLUMBA 


In  the  Name  of  Jesus  Christ,  the  Pre- 
face begins  : 

Wishing  to  fall  in  with  the  urgent  demands  of 
the  Brethren,  and  being  about  to  write,  with 
Christ's  help,  the  life  of  our  Blessed  Patron,  I  shall 
have  a  care,  firstly,  to  warn  those  who  may  read  it, 
that  they  should  give  credit  to  the  facts  therein 
recorded,  and  attend  to  the  matter  rather  than  to 
the  words,  which,  as  I  think,  seem  uncultured  and 
rude.  And  let  them  remember  that  the  Kingdom 
of  God  consists  not  in  exuberance  of  eloquence, 
but  in  the  abundant  blossoming  forth  of  faith  ; 
and  let  them  not,  because  of  some  obscure  names 
of  men  or  tribes  or  places  in  the  barbarous  Irish 
tongue  (which,  as  I  think,  sounds  harsh  compared 
with  various  languages  of  foreign  nations),  despise 
a  record  of  deeds,  useful  to  us,  and  done  not  with- 
out God's  help. 

Further,  we  have  thought  to  warn  the  reader  of 
this  also  :  that  many  other  things  concerning  this 


4  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

man  of  blessed  memory,  even  things  worthy  of 
remembrance,  have  been  omitted  by  us  for  the 
sake  of  brevity  ;  and  in  order  to  avoid  wearying 
our  readers  a  few  only  out  of  many  have  been 
recorded  here.  And  this,  as  I  think,  every  one 
who  reads  these  will  perhaps  note,  that  of  the 
great  deeds  of  the  same  blessed  man,  fame  has 
disseminated  amongst  the  peoples  those  which  are 
the  least  important,  as  compared  with  these  few 
which  we  are  now  arranging  to  set  briefly  down. 

Hence,  after  this  first  little  Preface,  I  shall,  in 
the  opening  of  my  second  one,  begin,  with  God's 
help,  to  give  an  account  of  our  prelate's  name. 

NOTE 

''The  barbarous  Irish  tongue" 

Adamnan  thinks  it  necessary,  as  did  many  other 
writers,  Celtic  and  Saxon,  to  apologise  for  the  uncouth- 
ness  of  his  mother  tongue  when  used  in  connection 
with  Latin. 


In  the  Name  of  Jesus  Christ 

The  Second  Preface 

He  was  a  man  of  venerable  life  and  of  blessed 
memory,  father  and  founder  of  monasteries,  hav- 
ing the  same  name  as  Jonas,  the  prophet,  for, 
though  differing  in  sound  of  the  three  different 
languages,  it  means  one  and  the  same  thing  ;  what 
in  Hebrew  is  pronounced  Iona,  in  Greek  is 
uttered  Peristera  and  in  the  Latin  tongue  is 
called  Columba.     Such  and  so  great  a  name  was 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  5 

not  given,  it  is  believed,  to  the  man  of  God 
without  a  Divine  providence.  For  also  according 
to  the  faith  of  the  Gospels  the  Holy  Ghost  is 
shown  to  have  descended  on  the  Only  Begotten 
of  the  Eternal  Father  in  the  form  of  that  little 
bird  which  is  called  columba  (dove) :  hence  for  the 
most  part  in  the  sacred  Books  the  dove  is  meant 
mystically  to  signify  the  Holy  Spirit.  Accordingly 
the  Saviour  also  in  His  Gospel  instructed  His 
disciples  that  they  should  preserve  the  simplicity 
of  the  dove  abiding  in  a  pure  heart ;  for  the  dove 
is  a  simple  and  innocent  bird.  Meet,  therefore, 
was  it  that  the  simple  and  innocent  man,  who  by 
his  dove-like  ways  made  in  himself  a  dwelling- 
place  for  the  Holy  Spirit,  should  be  called  by  that 
name,  a  name  to  which  not  unfitly  corresponds 
that  which  is  written  in  the  Proverbs  :  "  Better 
is  a  good  name  than  much  riches." 

Not  undeservedly,  therefore,  was  this  our  pre- 
late, by  God's  gift,  adorned  and  endowed  with  this 
proper  name  from  the  days  of  his  childhood,  but 
even  many  years  before  the  day  of  his  birth  he 
was  like  a  child  of  promise  so  named  in  wonderful 
and  prophetic  way,  as  revealed  to  a  certain  soldier 
of  Christ  by  revelation  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  For  a 
certain  British  pilgrim,  a  holy  man,  a  disciple  of 
the  holy  bishop  Patrick,  Mochta  by  name,  thus 
prophesied  concerning  our  Patron,  as  has  been 
told  us  on  the  testimony  of  experienced  men  of  old. 
"  In  the  last  ages  of  the  world",  he  says,  "a  son  is 
to  be  born  whose  name,  Columba,  shall  be  spread 
abroad,  known  through  all  the  provinces  of  the 


6  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Isles  of  the  ocean,  and  he  shall  shed  lustre  upon 
the  last  ages  of  the  world.  The  little  fields  of  our 
two  small  monasteries  shall  be  separated  by  the 
space  of  one  little  hedge  ;  a  man  very  dear  to 
God  and  of  great  merit  in  His  sight." 

Describing,  therefore,  the  life  and  character  of 
this  our  Columba,  I  shall,  in  the  first  place,  narrowly 
compress  it  in  a  short  discourse,  and  at  the  same 
time  set  before  the  reader's  eyes  his  holy  conversa- 
tion. But  I  will  also  briefly  set  forth  some  of  his 
miracles,  to  be,  as  it  were,  eagerly  foretasted  by 
those  who  read ;  these,  however,  will  be  more 
fully  detailed,  divided  into  three  books.  And  of 
these  the  first  will  contain  Prophetic  Revelations  ; 
the  second  Divine  Miracles  performed  by  him  ; 
the  third  will  contain  Angelic  Apparitions  and 
certain  Manifestations  of  heavenly  brightness  upon 
the  man  of  God.  Let  no  one,  therefore,  consider 
me  as  either  lying  about  this  so  renowned  a  man, 
or  as  writing  things  doubtful  or  uncertain  ;  but  be 
it  known  that  I  shall  tell  those  things  which  have 
been  handed  down  in  the  consistent  record  of  our 
elders  and  of  faithful  experienced  men,  and  that 
I  shall  write  without  any  ambiguity ;  and  this 
either  from  what  we  have  been  able  to  find  was 
committed  to  writing  before  our  time,  or  from  what 
we,  diligently  inquiring,  have  learned  by  hearing 
from  certain  experienced  and  faithful  ancients  who 
told  them  to  us  without  any  misgiving. 

Saint  Columba,  then,  was  born  of  noble  parent- 
age ;  his  father  was  Fedilmith,  son  of  Fergus,  and 
his   mother   was   Aethne  by  name,  whose  father 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  7 

may  be  called  in  Latin,  Filius  Navis  (son  of  Nave), 
but  in  the  Irish  tongue,  Mac  Nave. 

In  the  second  year  after  the  battle  of  Culedre- 
bina  (Cooldrevny)  and  in  the  forty-second  of  his 
age,  wishing  to  make  a  pilgrimage  for  Christ 
from  Ireland  to  Britain,  he  sailed  forth.  And 
he,  who,  even  from  boyhood  had  been  devoted  to 
the  school  of  Christ  and  to  the  study  of  wisdom, 
preserving  by  the  gift  of  God  integrity  of  body  and 
purity  of  soul,  showed  that  although  placed  upon 
earth  he  was  fitted  for  a  heavenly  life.  For  he 
was  angelic  of  aspect,  clean  in  speech,  holy  in  deed, 
of  excellent  disposition,  great  in  counsel,  for  thirty- 
four  years  trained  as  an  Island-soldier  (of  Christ). 
He  could  not  pass  the  space  even  of  a  single  hour 
without  applying  himself  either  to  prayer,  or  read- 
ing, or  writing,  or  also  to  some  manual  labour. 
By  day  and  by  night  he  was  so  occupied,  without 
any  intermission,  in  unwearied  exercises  of  fasts 
and  vigils  that  the  burden  of  any  one  of  these 
particular  labours  might  seem  to  be  beyond  human 
endurance.  And,  amid  all,  dear  to  all,  ever  show- 
ing a  pleasant,  holy  countenance,  he  was  gladdened 
in  his  inmost  heart  by  the  joy  of  the  Holy  Spirit. 

NOTES 

Iona:  Peristera:  Columba 

The  Hebrew  Iona,  a  dove,  is  the  proper  name  of  the 
prophet  Jonah.  St.  Columbanus  (543-615)  when  he 
landed  in  Gaul  {c.  584-5)  and  was  asked  what  he  was, 
replied:  "I  am  an  Irish  pilgrim,  and  my  speech  and 
action  correspond  to  my  name,  which  is  in  Hebrew  Iona, 
in  Greek  Peristera,  and  in  Latin  Columba,  a  dove." 


8  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

" A  certain  British  pilgrim  .  .  .   Mochta  by  name" 

This  was  St.  Mochta  of  Lughmagh,  or  Louth,  com- 
memorated in  the  Calendar  on  August  19th.  He  was 
"ortus  ex  Britannia" — of  British  origin;  and  landed 
at  Omeath  in  the  county  of  Louth  with  twelve  followers. 
Hence  his  title  of  "  proselytus  ",  a  new-comer. 

"  Of  noble  parents" 

Columba's  paternal  ancestor  was  Niall,  King  of  Ire- 
land, A.  D.  379-405,  and  his  maternal  ancestor  Echin, 
seventh  in  descent  from  Cathaeir  Mor,  King  of  Ireland, 

A.D.    120. 

The  Battle  of  Cooldrevny 
Fought  in  561. 


HERE  BEGINS  THE  TEXT  OF  THE  FIRST 
BOOK, 

CONCERNING   HIS   PROPHETIC 
REVELATIONS. 

I 

A  SHORT   ACCOUNT  OF   HIS   MIRACULOUS 

POWERS. 

And  so,  according  to  our  promise  given  above, 
there  are  to  be  briefly  set  forth  in  this  book,  in  the 
first  place,  such  proofs  of  his  miraculous  powers 
as  this  venerable  man  gave.  For  in  the  Name  of 
the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  by  the  virtue  of  his  prayers, 
he  cured  men  suffering  from  the  attacks  of  various 
diseases  ;  and  he  alone,  God  helping,  drove  out 
from  this  our  Island  (Iona)  which  now  has  the 
Primacy,  malignant  and  innumerable  hosts  of 
demons,  warring  against  him,  seen  by  bodily  eyes 
and  beginning  to  bring  deadly  diseases  upon  his 
Monastic  Society.  By  Christ's  help  he  repressed 
the  furious  rage  of  wild  beasts  partly  by  striking 
them  dead,  partly  by  boldly  repelling  them. 

The  swellings  of  the  waves,  also,  rising  sometimes 
mountains  high  in  a  great  storm,  were  soon  quieted 
and  brought  low  at  his  prayer,  and  his  ship  in  which 
at  that  time  he  happened  to  be  sailing  was  brought 
to  the  wished-for  haven  in  a  perfect  calm.     When 

9 


io  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

staying  for  some  days  in  the  country  of  the  Picts, 
on  returning  thence  he  hoisted  his  sail  against  a 
contrary  wind  to  confound  the  Druids,  and  so  his 
ship,  scudding  over  the  sea,  made  as  quick  a  voyage 
as  if  he  had  had  a  favourable  breeze.  And  on 
other  occasions  winds  that  were  contrary  for 
sailors  were  turned  into  favourable  ones  at  his 
prayer. 

In  that  same  region  above  mentioned,  he  took  a 
white  stone  from  a  river  and  blessed  it  for  the 
working  of  certain  cures,  and  this  stone  on  being 
dropped  into  water,  contrary  to  nature,  floated  on 
the  surface  like  an  apple.  This  divine  miracle 
was  done  in  the  presence  of  King  Brude  and  his 
household.  And,  what  is  a  still  greater  miracle,  in 
the  same  province  also  he  raised  the  dead  son  of 
a  certain  countryman,  a  believer,  and  restored  him, 
living  and  unhurt,  to  his  father  and  mother. 

At  another  time,  the  same  blessed  man,  then  a 
young  deacon  residing  in  Ireland  with  Finbarr,  a 
holy  bishop,  when  the  wine  necessary  for  the  Holy 
Mysteries  (the  Mass)  failed,  turned  plain  water  into 
true  wine  by  the  power  of  prayer. 

But,  further,  a  great  light  of  heavenly  brilliancy 
was  sometimes  seen  by  some  of  the  brethren  to  be 
shed  upon  him  on  different  and  separate  occasions, 
both  in  the  darkness  of  night  and  in  daylight.  He 
merited  also  delightful,  most  sweet  and  luminous 
visits  of  holy  angels. 

By  the  revelation  of  the  Holy  Ghost  he  often 
saw  the  souls  of  certain  righteous  men  borne  by 
angels  to  the  highest  heavens  ;  but  many  a  time 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  u 

also  and  very  often  he  saw  other  souls  of  repro- 
bates borne  by  demons  to  hell. 

Many  a  time  did  he  foretell  the  future  deserts  of 
many  while  yet  living  in  mortal  flesh  ;  the  joys  of 
some,  the  woes  of  others.  In  the  dreadful  crash 
of  battle  he  also  obtained  this  from  God  by  the 
virtue  of  his  prayers  :  that  some  kings  should 
be  vanquished,  and  other  rulers  should  come  off 
victors.  And  not  only  whilst  he  was  in  this  present 
life,  but  also  after  his  passing  out  of  the  flesh  was 
this  kind  of  favour  vouchsafed  to  him,  as  to  some 
victorious  and  most  brave  champion,  by  God  Who 
does  honour  to  all  the  saints. 

Of  such  honour  as  this,  conferred  from  above 
by  the  Almighty  upon  the  honourable  man,  we  will 
just  give  one  example  which  was  manifested  in 
favour  of  Oswald,  the  Saxon  king,  the  day  before 
he  fought  with  Cation  (Cadwallon),  the  most  valiant 
king  of  the  Britons.  For  when  the  same  King 
Oswald  had  pitched  his  camp  in  readiness  for 
battle,  one  day,  while  asleep  on  a  pillow  in  his 
tent,  he  sees  St.  Columba  in  a  vision  gleaming 
with  angelic  beauty,  and  his  lofty  figure  seemed 
to  touch  the  clouds  with  the  crown  of  his  head. 
And  this  blessed  man,  revealing  his  own  name  to 
the  king  standing  in  the  midst  of  the  camp,  covered 
the  same  camp,  except  one  small  distant  spot,  with 
his  shining  garment,  and  uttered  these  encouraging 
words,  the  same,  namely,  which  the  Lord  spake  to 
Jesue  Ben  Nun  [Joshua  the  son  of  Nun]  before  the 
passage  of  the  Jordan,  after  the  death  of  Moses, 
saying  :  "  Be  of  a  good  courage ;  lo  !  I  will  be  with 


12  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

thee",  etc.  St.  Columba,  therefore,  speaking  these 
words  to  the  king  in  the  vision,  adds  :  "  Go  forth 
from  the  camp  to  battle  this  very  night,  for  this 
time  the  Lord  has  granted  to  me  that  thine  enemies 
shall  be  put  to  flight,  and  thy  foe,  Cation,  delivered 
into  thine  hands,  and  that  after  the  battle  thou 
shalt  come  back  victor,  and  that  thou  shalt  reign 
happily."  The  king,  waking  up  after  these  words, 
narrates  this  vision  to  his  assembled  council ;  and 
all  encouraged  by  it,  the  whole  people  promise  to 
believe  and  to  receive  baptism  after  their  return 
from  the  battle  :  for  up  to  that  time  all  that  Saxon 
land  [Northumbria]  had  been  wrapt  in  the  darkness 
of  heathendom  and  ignorance,  except  King  Oswald 
himself,  with  twelve  men,  who  were  baptized  with 
him  what  time  he  was  in  exile  among  the  Irish. 
What  more  need  I  say  ?  On  that  very  same  night 
King  Oswald,  as  he  had  been  directed  in  the  vision, 
goes  forth  from  the  camp  to  battle  against  many 
thousands,  with  an  army  much  smaller,  and  obtains 
from  the  Lord,  as  it  had  been  promised  him,  a 
happy  and  easy  victory  ;  and,  having  slain  King 
Cation,  returning  victor  from  the  battle,  he  was 
afterwards  established  by  God  as  the  imperator 
(overlord,  Bretwalda)  of  all  Britain.  My  prede- 
cessor, our  Abbot  Failbeus,  related  this  narrative  to 
me,  Adamnan,  nothing  doubting,  and  he  declared 
that  he  had  heard  it  from  the  mouth  of  King  Oswald 
himself  as  he  related  this  same  vision  to  Seghine, 
the  Abbot. 

But  this   also  seems  a  fact  not  to  be  passed 
by  :    that  by  certain  hymns  in  the   Irish  tongue 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  13 

in  praise  of  the  same  blessed  man  and  the  com- 
memoration of  his  name,  certain  persons,  though 
they  were  wicked  men  of  lewd  conversation  and 
bloodthirsty,  in  the  very  night  in  which  they  had 
been  singing  the  same  hymns,  were  freed  from  the 
hands  of  their  enemies  who  had  surrounded  the 
house  of  the  same  singers  ;  and  they  escaped  un- 
hurt between  the  flames  and  the  swords  and  the 
spears  ;  and  strange  to  tell,  a  few  of  those  who,  as 
though  making  light  of  those  memorials  of  the 
holy  man,  would  not  sing  the  hymns,  were  the 
only  ones  who  perished  in  that  attack  of  their 
enemies.  Not  two  or  three  witnesses,  according  to 
law,  of  this  miracle,  but  even  a  hundred,  and  more 
than  that,  could  be  brought  forward.  And  not 
in  one  place  or  at  one  time  only  is  this  same 
thing  proved  to  have  happened,  but  even  at  differ- 
ent times  and  places  in  Ireland  and  Britain,  by  a 
like  kind  of  deliverance  and  for  a  similar  cause,  has 
it  been  found  without  doubt  to  have  been  done.  We 
have  learned  these  things,  nothing  doubting,  from 
well-informed  men  of  each  district  where  by  a  similar 
miracle  the  same  thing  happened. 

But  to  return  now  to  the  main  point :  Among 
those  miracles  which  the  same  man  of  the  Lord, 
while  dwelling  in  mortal  flesh,  wrought  by  the  gift 
of  God,  was  that  from  his  youthful  years  he  began 
also  to  excel  in  the  spirit  of  prophecy,  to  foretell 
things  to  come,  to  announce  to  those  who  were 
present  things  that  were  happening  at  a  distance  ;. 
for,  though  absent  in  body  yet  present  in  spirit,  he 
could  perceive  things  done  far  away ;  for  according 


14  LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

to  the  word  of  St.  Paul,  "He  who  cleaveth  unto 
the  Lord  is  one  spirit"  (i  Cor.  vi.  17).  Whence 
also  this  same  man  of  the  Lord,  St.  Columba — 
as  he  himself  did  not  deny  to  some  few  Brethren 
who  sometimes  inquired  concerning  this  matter — in 
some  contemplations  of  Divine  grace,  beheld  even 
the  whole  world  as  though  collected  in  one  ray  of 
the  sun,  laid  open  to  his  sight,  the  capacity  of  his 
mind  being  miraculously  enlarged.  These  things 
concerning  the  miraculous  powers  of  the  holy  man 
are  here  narrated  in  order  that  the  eager  reader 
may,  in  the  things  thus  briefly  written,  have,  as  it 
were,  a  foretaste  of  sweeter  feasts  to  come,  and 
these  indeed,  the  Lord  helping,  shall  be  more  fully 
told  in  the  three  following  books. 

It  seems  to  me,  now,  not  unfitting  that  I  should 
relate — though  not  in  their  proper  order — the 
prophecies  which  the  blessed  man  made  at  various 
times  regarding  certain  holy  and  illustrious  men. 

NOTES 

This  our  island  lona  which  now  has  the  Primacy 

Bede  in  his  "  Ecclesiastical  History,"  iii.  4,  says : 
"Before  he  (Columba)  passed  over  into  Britain  he  had 
built  a  noble  monastery  in  Ireland  called  Dearm-ach, 
the  Field  of  Oaks  (Derry)",  and  from  this  and  the 
monastery  of  Candida  Casa  (Whitherne,  Galloway) 
"  many  others  had  their  beginning  through  his  disciples, 
both  in  Britain  and  Ireland ;  but  the  monastery  where 
his  body  lies  (lona)  is  the  principal  of  them  all." 

In  the  country  of  the  Picts 

Pictland  in  Columba's  time  comprised  almost  all  of 
what  we  now  call  Scotland,   from  the  Firth  of  Forth 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  15 

northwards.  It  was  in  the  ninth  year  of  Brude,  King 
of  the  Picts,  that  St.  Columba  arrived  in  North  Britain, 
a.d.  563.     Brude  reigned  554  to  584. 

To  confound  the  Druids 

Magi  is  the  word  used  by  Adamnan,  and  it  is  so  used 
to  mean  Druids  in  the  "Acts  of  Irish  Saints"  by 
Colgan. 

Oswald 

King  of  Northumbria,  635-642. 

Cation 

Cadwalla,  or  Cadwallon,  king  of  the  Britons  of 
Strathclyde.  The  battle  with  Oswald,  in  which  he 
was  defeated  and  slain  in  635,  was  fought  at  Heaven- 
field,  near  the  Roman  Wall  and  Hexham.  It  is  one 
of  the  most  famous  in  the  early  British  and  Saxon 
annals. 

Our  Abbot  Failbeus 

Eighth  Abbot  of  Iona,  669-679. 

Seghine,  the  Abbot 
Fifth  Abbot  of  Iona,  623-652. 

Certain  hymns 

Probably  the  Amhra  Coluimcille,  or  "  Praises  of 
St.  Columba,"  by  the  bard  Dalian  Forghaill,  still 
extant  in  choice  (but  very  ancient  and  obscure)  Irish. 
St.  Columba  had  befriended  the  bards  of  Ireland  who 
had  become  unpopular,  and  in  575  saved  them  from 
being  abolished  by  the  Convention  of  Drum  Ceatt. 


i6  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


II 

CONCERNING  ST.    FINTAN,   ABBOT,   SON   OF 
TAILCHAN. 

St.  Fintan,  who  afterwards,  throughout  all  the 
churches  of  the  Irish,  was  held  a  man  of  very  high 
repute,  keeping  from  his  boyhood,  God  helping, 
purity  of  flesh  and  of  spirit,  devoted  to  studies  of 
Divine  wisdom,  had  it  in  his  heart,  while  yet  in  his 
youthful  years,  that,  leaving  Ireland,  he  would  set 
out  and  visit  our  holy  Columba.  Burning  with  that 
desire,  he  goes  to  a  certain  old  man,  a  friend  of  his, 
a  most  wise  and  venerable  cleric  among  his  own 
people,  who  was  called  in  Irish  Columb  Crag,  so  that 
he  might  hear  from  him,  as  from  a  wise  man,  some 
counsel.  And  when  he  had  laid  bare  to  him  his 
thoughts  on  the  matter,  he  received  from  him  this 
answer  :  "  Who  can  hinder  this  thy  desire,  devout 
and  inspired,  as  I  believe,  by  God,  to  sail  across 
to  St.  Columba?"  At  the  same  hour  there  arrive 
by  chance  two  monks  of  St.  Columba,  who, 
being  questioned  as  to  their  travels,  say :  "  Rowing 
over  from  Britain  lately  Ave  have  come  to-day 
from  the  Oakwood  of  Calgach".  "Is  your  holy 
father  Columba  well?"  says  Columb  Crag.  And 
they  sorely  weeping  with  great  sorrow  :  "  Well,  in- 
deed, is  he,  our  patron,  who,  not  many  days  agone, 
departed  to  Christ."  Which  hearing,'  Fintan  and 
Columb  and  all  who  were  there  within,  prostrate  with 
their  faces  to  the  earth,  wept  bitterly.  Fintan  pre- 
sently inquires,  saying  :  "Whom  has  he  left  behind 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  17 

him  as  successor?"  "  Baithene,  his  disciple,"  say 
they.  And  all  crying  out,  "  It  is  meet  and  due," 
Columb  says  to  Fintan,  "  What  now  wilt  thou  do, 
Fintan?"  Who,  answering,  says:  "If  the  Lord 
will  permit  I  will  sail  forth  to  Baithene,  the  holy 
and  wise  man,  and  if  he  will  take  me  I  will  have 
him  for  Abbot."  Then,  next,  having  kissed  the 
above-mentioned  Columb  and  bidding  him  farewell, 
he  prepares  to  sail,  and,  sailing  across  without  any 
delay  whatever,  arrives  at  the  Ionan  Isle.  And  up 
to  that  time  his  name  was  not  known  in  these 
parts  ;  whence  it  happened  that  being  at  first 
hospitably  received  as  some  unknown  guest,  on 
another  day  he  sends  a  messenger  to  Baithene 
wishing  to  have  speech  with  him  face  to  face. 
And  he,  as  he  was  affable  and  pleasant  to  travellers, 
bids  that  he  be  brought  to  him  ;  who,  being  at 
once  brought,  in  the  first  place,  as  was  right, 
prostrated  himself  on  the  ground  on  bended  knees. 
And  commanded  by  the  holy  elder  he  rises,  and  sit- 
ting down  he  is  questioned  by  Baithene,  who  was  not 
aware  as  yet  of  those  things,  concerning  his  nation 
and  province,  his  name  and  manner  of  life,  and 
for  what  reason  he  undertook  the  labour  of  a  sea 
voyage.  And  he,  thus  questioned,  tells  all  things 
in  order,  and  humbly  begs  that  he  may  be  received. 
To  whom  the  holy  elder,  having  heard  these  things 
from  his  guest,  and  at  once  knowing  him  to  be 
the  man  of  whom  St.  Columba  had  prophetically 
spoken  some  time  before,  says,  "  I  ought,  indeed,  to 
give  my  God  thanks  for  thy  coming  hither,  my  son, 
but  know  thou  this  undoubtedly,  that  thou  wilt 
c 


i8  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

not  be  monk  of  ours."     Hearing  this  the  guest, 
very  much  saddened,  says,   "  Perhaps,  unworthy 
as  I  am,  I  do  not  deserve  to  become  thy  monk ". 
The  elder  presently  says  :  "  I  said  not  this,  as  thou 
sayest,  that  thou  art   unworthy  ;   but  although   I 
would  rather  keep  thee  with  me,  yet  I  cannot  vio- 
late  the   command   of  my   predecessor,  the  holy 
Columba,  through  whom  the  Holy  Spirit  prophesied 
concerning  thee.     For  on  a  day,  speaking  to  me 
alone   and   apart,    with   prophetic   mouth,   among 
other  things  thus  he  said :    "   O    Baithene,  thou 
shouldst  hear  very  attentively  these  my  words  ;  for 
immediately  after  my  awaited  and  much  desired 
passing    from    this    world    to    Christ,    a    certain 
Brother  from  Ireland,  who  at  this  time  regulates 
his  youthful  age  by  a  good  life,  Avell  versed   in 
sacred  studies,  Fintan  by  name,  of  the  tribe  Mocu- 
moie,  whose  father  is  called  Tailchan  ;  he,  I  say, 
coming  to  thee,  will  humbly  beg  that  thou  wilt 
receive  him  and  wilt  number  him  among  the  rest 
of  thy  monks.     But  it  has  not  been  predestined 
for  him    in   the  foreknowledge   of  God   that   he 
should  himself  become  the  monk  of  any  Abbot, 
but   he   has   long  ago   been    chosen   by   God   as 
an  Abbot    of  monks   and    a    leader   of   souls   to 
the  heavenly  kingdom.     Do  not  thou,  therefore, 
retain  this  said  man  with  thee  in  these  our  islands, 
lest  thou  shouldst  seem   also   to   go   against  the 
will  of  God  :    but  apprising  him  of  these  words, 
send  him  back  in  peace  to   Ireland  that  he  may 
erect  a  monastery  in  the  parts  of  Leinster  near 
the  sea,  and  there  feeding  the  flock  of  the  sheep 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  19 

of  Christ  let  him  lead  numberless  souls  to  the 
Heavenly  Country".  The  younger  holy  man,  hear- 
ing these  things,  shedding  tears,  gives  thanks  to 
Christ  saying,  "  Be  it  unto  me  according  to  the 
prophetic  and  wondrous  foreknowledge  of  the 
holy  Columba".  And  in  those  same  days,  obey- 
ing the  words  of  the  Saints  and  receiving  a 
blessing  from  Baithene,  he  sailed  across  to  Ireland 
in  peace. 

I  learned  these  things,  nothing  doubting,  from  a 
certain  religious  aged  priest,  a  soldier  of  Christ, 
Oisseneus  by  name,  son  of  Ernan,  of  the  clan 
Mocu  Neth  Corb,  who  related  them  to  me,  and  he 
bore  witness  that  he  had  himself  heard  the  above- 
mentioned  words  from  the  mouth  of  the  same 
Saint  Fintan,  son  of  Tailchan,  whose  monk  he 
had  been. 

NOTES 

St.  Fintan 

Known  also  as  Munna  and  Mundres.  He  was  one  of 
the  monks  at  Iona.     Died  635. 

Columb  Crag 
Perhaps  Colum,  priest  of  Eanach  (Enagh)  near  Derry. 

The  Oakwood  of  Calgach 

"  Roboretum  Calgachi "  in  the  text ;  the  old  name  of 
Derry,  which  was  afterwards  changed  to  Daire  Coluim- 
cille.  Derry  was  the  most  famous  of  Columba's  monas- 
teries in  Ireland. 

Of  the  tribe  (or  dan)  Mocumoie 

Perhaps  Mac-Ua-Maan,  the  son  of  the  grandson  of 
Maan. 


2o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

In  the  parts  of  Leinster 

"In  Laginensium  finibus."  The  Laginenses  were 
the  men  of  Laighen  or  Layn.  With  the  Scandinavian 
addition  of  stadr,  ster,  a  place,  we  get  Laighen  stadr, 
Laynstadr,  Leinster. 

Oisseneus 

Perhaps  an  abbot  of  Clonard,  who  died  654. 

Mocu-Neth-Corb 

That  is,  Mac-U-Neth-corb,  denoting  that  he  was  of 
the  clan  Ui-Niadh-corb.  Mogh  Corb  was  the  ancestor 
of  Cathaeir  Mor,  Hereditary  King  of  Leinster,  and  of 
several  famous  Leinster  saints. 


Ill 

A  PROPHECY  OF  ST.  COLUMBA  CONCERNING 
ERNENE,  SON  OF  CRASEN. 

At  another  time,  the  blessed  man,  while  staying 
for  some  months  in  the  midland  part  of  Ireland, 
founding  by  Divine  inspiration  the  monastery  which 
is  called  in  Irish  Dair-Mag,  was  pleased  to  go 
to  visit  the  Brethren  who  were  dwelling  in  the 
Clonoensian  monastery  of  St.  Ceran  (Clonmac- 
noise).  And  when  they  heard  of  his  arrival,  all  of 
them  from  the  little  fields  about  the  monastery, 
together  with  those  who  were  found  congregated 
within  it,  following  with  the  greatest  alacrity  the 
Abbot  Alither,  set  out  with  one  accord,  going  outside 
the  enclosure  of  the  monastery  to  meet  St.  Columba 
as  if  he  were  an  angel  of  the  Lord ;  humbly  bowing 
with  faces  to  the  earth  at  the  sight  of  him,  he  was 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  21 

kissed  by  them  with  all  reverence,  and  singing 
hymns  and  praises  they  conduct  him  with  all 
honour  to  the  church.  And  binding  together  a 
canopy  of  poles  they  had  it  carried  by  four  men, 
walking  equally  apart  about  the  Saint  as  he  went, 
lest,  be  it  understood,  the  holy  and  aged  Columba 
should  be  jostled  by  the  crowding  together  of  the 
throngs  of  Brethren.  In  the  same  hour  a  certain 
servant  lad,  very  downcast  in  mien  and  attire,  and 
not  as  yet  pleasing  to  his  elders,  hiding  himself  as 
much  as  he  could,  came  behind  that  he  might 
secretly  touch  even  the  fringe  of  the  cloak  with 
which  the  blessed  man  was  clad,  and,  if  he  could 
do  so,  without  his  knowing  or  feeling  it.  But 
nevertheless  this  was  not  hid  from  the  Saint,  for 
what  he  could  not  with  his  bodily  eyes  see  done 
behind  him  he  perceived  with  the  eyes  of  his  soul. 
Wherefore  he  stops  suddenly,  and  stretching  out 
his  hand  behind  him  takes  hold  of  the  boy's  neck, 
and  drawing  him  sets  him  in  front  of  him.  And  while 
all  those  who  are  standing  around  say :  "  Send  him 
away !  send  him  away !  Why  dost  thou  detain  this 
wretched  and  naughty  lad  ?"  the  Saint,  on  the  other 
hand,  utters  from  his  pure  heart  these  prophetic 
words  :  "  Suffer  it  to  be,  brethren,  suffer  it  to  be, 
now."  But  to  the  much  trembling  boy  he  says  : 
"  O  son,  open  thy  mouth  and  put  out  thy  tongue." 
Then  the  boy,  thus  commanded,  opening  his  mouth, 
with  much  trembling  put  out  his  tongue,  and  the 
Saint,  stretching  forth  his  holy  hand,  earnestly  bless- 
ing it,  thus  prophetically  speaks,  saying :  "Although 
this  boy  may  now  seem  to  you  despicable  and  very 


22  LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

worthless,  yet  let  no  one  despise  him  for  that.  For 
from  this  hour  not  only  will  he  not  displease  you, 
but  he  will  greatly  please  you  ;  and  he  will  increase 
by  degrees  from  day  to  day  in  good  conduct  and 
the  virtues  of  the  soul ;  wisdom  also  and  prudence 
shall  be  increased  in  him  more  and  more  from  this 
day  and  great  will  be  his  progress  in  this  your 
community;  his  tongue  also  shall  be  gifted  by  God 
with  wholesome  doctrine  and  eloquence." 

This  was  Ernene,  son  of  Crasen,  afterwards 
famous  and  very  much  noted  among  all  the 
Churches  of  Ireland.  And  he  it  was  who  narrated 
all  these  above  written  words  prophesied  concern- 
ing himself  to  the  Abbot  Seghine,  my  predecessor  ; 
Failbhe,  who  himself  was  also  there  present  with 
Seghine,  attentively  listening  the  while,  and  from 
his  (Failbhe's)  account  I  have  myself  come  to 
know  all  that  I  have  stated. 

But  there  are  many  other  things  which  by  the 
revelation  of  the  Holy  Ghost  the  Saint  prophe- 
sied in  those  days  when  he  was  a  guest  in  the 
Clonoensian  monastery ;  as,  for  instance,  about 
that  long-standing  dissension  which  arose  among 
the  Churches  of  Ireland  concerning  the  difference 
of  the  Feast  of  Easter  and  about  certain  visits 
made  to  him  by  Angels  by  whom  certain  places 
within  the  enclosures  of  the  same  monastery  were 
at  that  time  frequented. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  23 

NOTES 

Ernene,  son  of  Crasen 

St.  Ernene,  Ernin,  or  Mernocc,  the  form  Mernocc 
being  a  contraction  of  Mo-Ernin-occ,  "mo"  meaning 
"my"  and  " occ "  "little";  thus  "my  little  Ernin" 
in  affectionate  familiarity.  The  form  is  preserved  in 
Kilmarnock  and  Inchmarnock. 

Dair-Mag 

Now  Durrow.  Bede,  in  his  "  Ecclesiastical  History," 
iii.  4,  calls  it  Dearmach,  in.  the  language  of  the  Scots 
[Irish] — that  is,  the  Field  of  Oaks. 

Abbot  A  lit  her 
Fourth  abbot  of  Clonmacnoise.     Died  599. 

The  Enclosure  of  the  Monastery 

"Vallum  monasterii":  the  outer  defence,  such  as 
Bede  describes  as  surrounding  the  monastic  settlement 
of  Lindisfarne.     It  is  called  cashel  in  Irish. 

Canopy  of  poles 

1 '  Pyramidem  de  lignis  "  :  the  word  pyramis  is  used  of 
the  ciborium,  or  altar  canopy,  and  also  of  the  enclosing 
wall  or  fence  round  a  building.  Its  meaning  here  is 
probably  canopy. 

The  discord  which  arose  among  the  Churches 

This  was  the  famous  national  controversy  as  to  the 
proper  date  on  which  the  Easter  festival  should  be  kept. 
The  Roman  Easter  and  the  Roman  form  of  tonsure, 
which  was  equally  a  subject  of  discord,  were  not 
accepted  by  the  Celtic  Church  until  the  year  716. 


24  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


IV 

CONCERNING  THE  COMING  OF  ST.  CAINNECH,  THE 
ABBOT,  WHICH  ST.  COLUMBA  PROPHETICALLY 
FORETOLD. 
At  another  time  when  in  the  isle  of  Iona  on  a 
day  of  crashing  tempest  and  terrible  rising  of  the 
waves  when  the  Saint,  sitting  in  the  house  and 
directing  the  Brethren,  said :  "  Make  ready  a  lodging 
quickly,  and  draw  forth  water  for  the  washing  of 
the  feet  of  guests  ",  a  certain  Brother  among  them 
presently  said  :  "  Who,  this  very  windy  and  most 
dangerous  day,  can  safely  sail  across  the  Sound, 
though  it  be  narrow  ? "  And  the  Saint  hearing 
this,  thus  speaks  :  "  To  a  certain  man,  holy  and 
chosen,  who  will  come  to  us  before  evening, 
the  Almighty  has  granted  a  calm,  even  in  the 
storm."  And  behold  on  the  same  day  a  ship,  for 
some  time  expected  by  the  Brethren,  in  which 
was  Cainnech,  arrived,  according  to  the  prophecy 
of  the  Saint.  And  the  Saint  with  the  Brethren 
came  to  meet  him  and  he  was  honourably  and 
hospitably  received  by  him.  But  those  sailors 
who  had  been  with  Cainnech,  when  asked  by  the 
Brethren  what  sort  of  voyage  they  had  had, 
replied  just  as  St.  Columba  had  before  predicted, 
both  as  to  the  tempest  and  the  calm,  miraculously 
kept  apart  in  the  same  sea  and  at  the  same  time, 
God  so  granting,  and  they  stated  that  they  did 
not  feel  the  tempest,  which  however  they  saw  from 
afar. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  25 

NOTES 
The  Sound 
The  strait   between  Iona  and  the  Ross  of   Mull  is 
about  a  mile  across. 

Cainnech 

St.  Cainnech,  surnamed  Mocu  Dalon  ;  in  Scotland, 
called  Kenneth;  born  517,  died  600;  founder  of  Agaboe. 
The  city  of  Kilkenny  and  the  parish  of  Kilkenny  West 
derive  their  names  from  him. 


V 

CONCERNING  THE  DANGER  TO  THE  HOLY  BISHOP 
COLMAN  MOCUSAILNI,  IN  THE  SEA  NEAR  THE 
ISLAND  CALLED  RECHRU. 

On  another  day  also  Saint  Columba,  residing 
in  his  mother  church,  suddenly  smiling,  broke 
out  into  these  words  saying  :  "  Columban  son  of 
Beogna,  just  starting  to  sail  over  to  us,  is  now  in 
great  danger  in  the  rolling  tides  of  the  whirlpool 
of  Brecan,  and  sitting  at  the  prow,  holds  up  both 
hands  to  heaven  and  also  blesses  that  stormy 
and  threatening  sea  ;  and  yet  the  Lord  is  thus 
frightening  him  not  that  he  is  to  be  overwhelmed 
in  the  waves  by  the  wreck  of  the  ship  in  which  he 
is  sitting,  but  rather  that  he  may  be  roused  to  pray 
more  earnestly  that,  God  being  propitious,  he 
may  pass  over  to  us  after  the  danger  is  over. 

NOTES 

"  Colman  MocusailnV 

i.e.  Mac  Ui  Sailne,  of  the  clan  Dal  Sailne,  some- 
times called  Columbanus,  as  in  the  text.  Born  555, 
died  611. 


26  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

1 '  The  island  called  Rechru  " 

Now  Rathlin,  three  miles  off  Fair  Head  on  the  coast 
of  Antrim. 

The  whirlpool  of  Brecan 

"Brecan's  Cauldron"  in  the  channel  between  Bally- 
castle  and  Rathlin.  Brecan,  grandson  of  Niall  of  the 
Nine  Hostages,  was  said  to  have  been  lost  in  it,  hence 
its  name. 

VI 

OF   CORMAC. 

At  another  time  also,  thus  prophesying  of  Cormac, 
grandson  of  Lethan,  certainly  a  holy  man,  who 
not  less  than  three  times  laboriously  sought  a 
solitude  in  the  ocean  but  did  not  find  it,  St.  Columba 
prophesying  said :  "  To  day,  once  more  desiring  to 
find  a  solitude,  Cormac  is  beginning  to  sail  out  from 
that  region  which,  situated  beyond  the  river  Moy, 
is  called  Eirros  Domno  ;  yet  will  he  not  even  this 
time  find  what  he  looks  for  ;  and  this  for  no 
other  fault  of  his  than  that  he  has  taken  with  him 
on  the  voyage  the  monk  of  a  certain  religious 
abbot  without  his  permission,  a  deserter,  who 
ought  not  rightly  to  accompany  him." 

NOTES 

Cormac 

Abbot  of  Durrow,  Cormac  Ua  Liathain  (grandson  of 
Lithain)  of  the  Sea. 

A  solitude 

A  desert  island.      Cormac  was  an  anchorite  as  well  as 
abbot. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  27 

The  River  Moy 
Irish,  Muaidhe  ;  in  Sligo. 

Eirros  Domno 

In  Irish,  Iorrus  Domhnanu,  Erris  of  the  Damnonii. 
Erris,  in  County  Mayo. 

VII 

PROPHECY    OF    THE    BLESSED    MAN    CONCERNING 
THE  DIN  OF  BATTLES  FOUGHT  AT  A  DISTANCE. 

Two  years  having  passed  after  the  battle  of 
Cule-Drebene  [in  563,  therefore],  as  it  has  been 
told  to  us,  at  the  time  when  the  blessed  man 
first  sailed  away  to  leave  Ireland  ;  on  a  certain 
day — that  is,  at  the  same  hour  in  which  was 
fought  in  Ireland  the  battle  called  in  Irish  of 
Ondemone,  the  same  man  of  God  then  living 
in  Britain,  narrated  before  King  Conall,  son  of 
Comgill,  everything  as  well  about  the  battle  fought 
as  also  about  those  kings  to  whom  the  Lord 
granted  victory  over  their  enemies,  whose  proper 
names  are  Ainmores  son  of  Setna  and  Domhnall 
and  Forcus,  two  sons  of  Mac  Ere.  But,  further, 
the  Saint  prophesied  in  like  manner  concerning 
the  king  of  the  Cruithne  who  was  called  Echod 
Laib,  how,  being  vanquished,  he  escaped,  riding  in 
his  chariot. 

NOTES 
"  Cule-Drebene" 

Cul  Dreimhne,  now  Coola  drummon,  six  miles  north 
of  Sligo.  The  battle  was  fought  in  561  between 
Diarmait,  King  of  Ireland,  and  Columba's  kinsmen,  the 
Clan  Neill.     It  was  the  cause  of  Columba's  exile. 


28  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Ondemone 
The  battle,   known  in  the  annals  as  that  of  Moin- 
Daire-Lothaire,  was  fought  against  the  Cruithne,  or  Irish 
Picts,  by  the  Northern  Hy-Neill  in  563. 

King  Conall 

This  was  the  king  of  the  Scottish  kingdom  of  Dalriada 
(the  present  county  of  Argyle),  who  gave  Columba  leave 
to  settle  in  Iona. 

Ainmore 

Irish  over-king  in  568.  Ainmore's  father  Sedna  and 
St.  Columba's  father  Fedhlim  were  brothers. 

Domhnall  and  Forms 

They  were  afterwards  joint  Kings  of  Ireland  in  565, 
on  the  assassination  of  Diarmait. 

Echod  Laib 

King  of  the  Cruithne,  or  Irish  Picts,  known  also  as 
the  Dal-Araidhe  and  the  Southern  Hy-Neill.  They 
occupied  the  southern  part  of  Co.  Antrim  and  the  greater 
part  of  the  County  Down. 


VIII 

OF  THE  BATTLE  OF  THE  MIATHI. 

At  another  time,  that  is  after  many  years  had 
run  their  course  after  the  above-mentioned  battle, 
when  the  holy  man  was  in  the  island  of  Iona  he 
suddenly  says  to  his  minister  Diormit,  "Ring 
the  bell."  The  Brethren,  roused  by  the  sound, 
run  quickly  to  the  church,  the  holy  Abbot  him- 
self going  before.  And  there  on  bended  knees 
he  says  to  them  :  "  Now  let  us  pray  to  the  Lord 
earnestly  for  this  people  and  for  King  Aidan  ;  for 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  29 

in  this  hour  they  are  entering  battle."  And  after  a 
moderate  interval,  having  gone  out  of  the  oratory- 
looking  up  to  heaven,  he  says  :  "  Now  are  the  bar- 
barians put  to  flight  and,  although  it  be  an  unhappy 
one,  yet  to  Aidan  is  granted  the  victory."  But  the 
blessed  man  also  prophetically  announced  the 
number  of  the  slain  of  Aidan's  army  as  three 
hundred  and  three  men. 

NOTES 
The  Miaihi 
The  Maeatae,  a  British  tribe  whose  territory  was  near 
the  Roman  Wall. 

Diormit 
St.  Columba's  attendant,  often  mentioned. 

Ring  the  bell 
It  was  a  handbell.  Warren  ("Celtic  Liturgy")  says 
that  a  bell  of  St.  Columba — possibly  the  very  bell  here 
alluded  to — is  still  in  existence  in  the  collection  made 
by  the  late  Mr.  John  Bell,  of  Dungannon.  (See  illus- 
tration on  p.  2.) 

Aidan 

Aedhan,  king  of  the  Scottish  Dalriada,  574. 


IX 

PROPHECY   OF   ST.    COLUMBA  CONCERNING  THE 
SONS  OF  KING  AIDAN. 

At  another  time,  before  the  aforesaid  battle,  the 
Saint  questions  King  Aidan  as  to  his  successor  in 
the  kingdom.  He  replying  that  he  does  not  know 
which  of  his  three  sons  is  to  reign — Arthur,  or 
EochoidFind,or  Domingart — the  Saint  accordingly 


3o  LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

prophesies  in  this  manner  :  "  None  of  these  three 
will  be  ruler,  for  they  will  fall  in  battle  slain  by 
enemies  ;  but  now  if  thou  hast  any  other  younger 
sons,  let  them  come  to  me,  and  he  of  them  whom 
God  shall  choose  for  king  will  suddenly  rush  to  my 
bosom".  And  when  they  were  called  in,  Eochoid 
Buide,  coming  to  him,  according  to  the  Saint's 
word,  lay  in  his  lap.  And  immediately  the  Saint 
kissed  and  blessed  him,  and  says  to  his  father : 
"  This  is  thy  survivor,  and  he  is  to  reign  king  after 
thee,  and  his  sons  shall  reign  after  him."  And  thus 
it  was  that  afterwards,  in  their  season,  all  things 
were  completely  fulfilled.  For  Arthur  and  Eochoid 
Find  were  slain,  in  no  long  interval  of  time  after, 
in  the  above-mentioned  battle  of  the  Miathi.  But 
Domingartwas  killed  in  Saxonia,  in  the  bloodshed 
of  battle  :  and  Eochoid  Buide  succeeded  to  the 
kingdom  after  his  father. 

X 

CONCERNING  DOMHNALL,   SON   OF  AEDH. 

Domhnall,  son  of  Aedh,  while  yet  a  boy,  was 
brought  by  his  foster-parents  to  St.  Columba  in 
Drum  Ceatt,  and  looking  upon  him  he  asks,  saying : 
"  Whose  son  is  this  whom  ye  have  brought  ? " 
and  they  answered,  "This  is  Domhnall,  son  of 
Aedh,  who  has  been  brought  to  thee  so  that  he 
may  return  enriched  with  thy  blessing."  When 
the  Saint  had  blessed  him,  he  says  forthwith :  "This 
one  shall  survive  after  all  his  brethren,  and  be  a 
very  famous  king  ;  nor  shall  he  ever  be  delivered 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  31 

into  his  enemies'  hands,  but  by  a  peaceful  death, 
in  old  age,  and  in  his  own  house,  in  the  presence 
of  a  crowd  of  his  familiar  friends,  he  shall  die  upon 
his  bed."  And  all  these  things  were  truly  fulfilled, 
according  to  the  prophecy  of  the  blessed  man  con- 
cerning him. 

NOTES 

Do?nhnall 
Son  of  King  Aedh,  died  in  598. 

Drum  Ceatt 

Drumceatt,  or  Dromocheta,  the  Ridge  of  Ceatt  or  Keth 
(a  man's  name),  in  Derry.  The  famous  Convention  of 
Drumceatt,  mentioned  later  by  Adamnan,  was  held  here 
in  575- 

Foster-parents 

Clerical  gaurdians. 

He  shall  die  upon  his  bed 

Not  many  Irish  chieftains  died  thus,  and  this  made  the 
prophecy  all  the  more  remarkable. 

XI 

CONCERNING  SCANDLAN,   SON   OF   COLMAN. 

At  the  same  time  and  in  the  same  place,  the  Saint 
desiring  to  visit  him,  goes  to  Scandlan,  son  of 
Colman,  who  was  detained  in  chains  at  the  seat  of 
King  Aedh,  and  when  he  had  blessed  him,  comfort- 
ing him,  says  :  "  My  son,  be  not  cast  down,  but  rather 
rejoice  and  take  courage,  for  King  Aedh,  in  whose 
stronghold  thou  art  in  chains,  will  go  before  thee 
out  of  this  world,  and  after  some  time  of  exile  thou 
art  to  rule  thirty  years  king  among  thine  own  people. 


32  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

And  again  thou  shalt  be  driven  from  the  kingdom 
and  be  an  exile  for  some  days,  after  which,  invited 
back  by  the  people,  thou  shalt  reign  for  three  brief 
periods."  And  all  these  things  were  fully  ac- 
complished according  to  the  prophecy  of  the  Saint. 
For  after  thirty  years  he  was  expelled  from  the 
kingdom,  and  was  an  exile  for  a  certain  space  of 
time  ;  but  afterwards,  invited  back  again  by  the 
people,  he  reigned,  not,  as  he  thought,  for  three 
years,  but  for  three  months,  after  which  he  died 
forthwith. 

XII 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN  REGARDING 
TWO  OTHER  RULERS,  WHO  WERE  CALLED 
THE  TWO  GRANDSONS  OF  MUIREDACH  : 
BAITAN,  SON  OF  MAC  ERCE,  AND  EOCHOID, 
SON   OF   DOMHNALL. 

At  another  time,  making  a  journey  through  the 
rough  and  rocky  district  which  is  called  Artda- 
muirchol,  and  hearing  his  companions,  namely, 
Laisran,  son  of  Feradach,  and  Diarmit,  his  assistant, 
discourse  by  the  way  about  the  two  above-mentioned 
kings,  he  addresses  to  them  these  words  :  "  O  my 
children,  why  talk  ye  thus  idly  of  these  men  ?  for 
both  these  kings  of  whom  you  now  discourse  have 
lately  perished,  beheaded  by  enemies.  On  this 
very  day,  too,  certain  sailors  coming  from  Scotia 
[Ireland]  will  tell  you  these  same  things  as  to  these 
kings."  And  on  the  same  day,  seafaring  men  from 
Ireland,  coming  to  the  place  which  is  called 
Muirbolc    Paradisi,    related    to    his    two    afore- 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  33 

mentioned  companions,  then  sailing  in  the  same 
ship  with  the  Saint,  the  accomplished  prophecy  of 
the  venerable  man  as  to  those  two  kings  being  slain. 

NOTES 
A  rtdam  uirchol 
Now  Ardnamurchan,  in  Argyle. 

Laisran 
First  cousin  to  St.  Columba,  Abbot  of  Durrow,  and 
then  (600-605)  °f  Iona- 

Scotia 
and  Hibernia  are  used  synonymously  in  this  chapter. 

Muirbolc  Paradisi 

Port-na-Murloch,  in  Lismore,  Argyle.  Muirbolc, 
Murbolgh,  means  sea-inlet,  and  the  name  Lismore  is 
Gaelic  Lios,  garden ;  mor,  great ;  thus,  perhaps,  ex- 
plaining the  epithet  "  Paradisi." 


XIII 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
AENGUS,  SON  OF  AEDH  COMMAN. 

Now  this  man,  exiled  from  his  fatherland  with 
two  other  brothers,  came,  an  exile,  to  the  Saint, 
when  he  was  sojourning  in  Britain  ;  who  blessing 
him  and  prophesying,  utters  from  his  holy  breast 
these  words  :  "  This  youth,  his  other  brothers  being 
dead,  will  survive,  and  is  destined  to  rule  for  a  long 
time  in  his  fatherland;  and  his  enemies  shall  fall 
before  him  ;  nor  yet  shall  he  ever  be  betrayed  into 
his  enemies'  hands  ;  but  he  shall  die  a  peaceful 
death,  an  old  man,  among  his  friends."     All  which 

D 


34  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

things  were  completely  fulfilled  according  to  the 
Saint's  word.  This  Aengus  is  he  whose  surname 
was  Bronbachal. 

NOTE 
Aengus,  surnamed  Bronbachal 
Mentioned  in  the  Annals  of  Ulster,  a.d.  648. 

XIV 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN  CONCERNING 
THE  SON  OF  KING  DIARMAIT,  WHO  IN  THE 
SCOTIC  [IRISH]  TONGUE  IS  CALLED  AEDH 
SLANE. 

At  another  time,  when  the  blessed  man  is  staying 
for  some  days  in  Ireland,  he  thus  speaks  pro- 
phetically to  the  aforesaid  Aedh  who  came  to  him  : 
"  Thou  shouldst  have  a  care,  my  son,  lest  by  doing 
a  murderous  sin  thou  losest  the  prerogative,  pre- 
destined by  God  for  thee,  of  the  monarchy  of  the 
kingdom  of  all  Ireland ;  for  if  ever  thou  dost 
commit  it  thou  shalt  not  enjoy  the  whole  kingdom 
of  thy  father,  but  a  part  of  it  only,  among  thy  own 
tribe,  for  a  short  time."  And  these  words  of  the 
Saint  were  thus  fulfilled  according  to  his  prophecy ; 
for  after  Suibone,  son  of  Colman,  had  been  treacher- 
ously killed  by  him,  he  did  not,  it  is  said,  for  more 
than  four  years  and  three  months,  hold  that  part 
of  the  kingdom  granted  to  him. 

NOTES 

Aedh  Slane 

Eldest   son   of  Diarmait,    king  of  the  Southern  Hy 
Neill   or    Cruithne,    Irish   Picts   of  South  Antrim   and 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  35 

Down,   c.   580.     His  seat  was  on  an  island  in  Lough 
Lene,  in  Westmeath. 

Suibhne,  son  of  Columbanus 
(Colman  Mor),  slain  by  his  uncle,  Aedh  Slane,  in  600. 

XV 
THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN  CONCERN- 
ING KING  RYDDERCH,  SON  OF  TOTHAIL,  WHO 
REIGNED   UPON   THE   ROCK  OF  CLUAITH. 

At  another  time,  this  same  king,  as  he  was  a  friend 
of  the  holy  man,  sent  some  secret  embassy  to  him 
by  Lugbe  Mocumin,  wishing  to  know  whether  he 
was  to  be  slain  by  his  enemies  or  not.  But  Lugbe, 
questioned  by  the  Saint  as  to  that  same  king  and 
kingdom  and  people,  and  replying,  as  though  in 
pity,  says,  "  Why  dost  thou  inquire  concerning  that 
unhappy  man,  who  cannot  by  any  means  know  at 
what  hour  he  may  be  killed  by  his  enemies  ?  "  The 
Saint  then  says,  "  Never  will  he  be  delivered  into 
his  enemies'  hands,  but  in  his  own  house  will  he 
die  upon  a  feather  bed."  Which  prophecy  of  the 
Saint  concerning  King  Rydderch  was  fully  accom- 
plished, for,  according  to  his  word,  he  did  die  a 
peaceful  death  in  his  own  house. 

NOTES 

Rydderch 
Son   of    Tudwal.      A  British   king   baptised   by   the 
disciples  of  St.  Patrick. 

The  Rock  of  Cluaith 
Alcluith    in   Bede,    called    later    Dun-Breatan,     the 
fortress  of  the  British  (now  Dumbarton),  the  chief  place 
of  the  British  kingdom  of  Strath  Clyde. 


36  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XVI 

PROPHECY  OF  THE  SAINT  CONCERNING  TWO 
BOYS,  ONE  OF  WHOM  DIED  AT  THE  END  OF 
THE  WEEK  ACCORDING  TO  THE  SAINT'S 
WORD. 

At  another  time,  two  men  of  the  people  come  to 
the  Saint  dwelling  in  the  isle  of  Iona,  one  of 
whom,  Meldan  by  name,  asks  the  Saint  concerning 
his  son,  who  was  present,  what  would  be  his  future. 
To  whom  the  Saint  speaks  thus  :  "Is  not  to-day 
the  Sabbath  [Saturday]  ?  Thy  son  will  die  on  the 
Friday,  at  the  end  of  the  coming  week  :  and  this 
day  week,  that  is  on  the  Sabbath,  he  will  be  buried 
here."  Then  the  other  peasant,  Glasderc  by  name, 
none  the  less  inquiring  as  to  the  son  whom  he  had 
with  him  there,  hears  this  reply  of  the  Saint :  "  Thy 
son,  Ernane,  will  see  his  grandchildren,  and  be 
buried,  an  old  man,  in  this  island."  All  of  which 
things  as  to  both  boys  in  their  time  were  fulfilled, 
according  to  the  Saint's  word. 

NOTES 

Sabbath 
Sabbati  dies.     Saturday  is  still  Sabbatum  in  Roman 
ecclesiastical  use. 

Sixth  Day 
Feria  sexta  :  Feria,  festival,  in  classical  Latin,  is  now 
used  for  week-day  in  Roman  service  books  ;  Sunday  is 
Dominica,  Monday  feria  secunda,  and  so  on  to  Sabbatum, 
Saturday. 

Glasderc 
Irish,  Glas  Derg  :  grey-eyed. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  37 


XVII 

THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  SAINT  REGARDING 
COLCA,  SON  OF  AEDH  DRAIGNICHE,  SPRUNG 
FROM  THE  GRANDSONS  OF  FECHUREG,  AND 
REGARDING  A  CERTAIN  SECRET  SIN  OF  HIS 
MOTHER. 

At  another  time,  the  Saint  questions  the  afore- 
said Colca,  staying  with  him  in  the  island  of  Iona, 
concerning  his  mother,  whether  she  was  religious 
or  not.  To  whom  replying,  he  says  :  "  I  have 
always  known  my  mother  to  be  well  conducted  and 
of  good  report."  The  Saint  then  speaks  thus  pro- 
phetically :  "  Set  out  quickly,  God  willing,  for 
Ireland.  Question  thy  mother  very  earnestly  re- 
garding a  certain  very  great  secret  sin  of  hers 
which  she  will  confess  to  no  man."  And  he, 
hearing  these  things,  obeying,  went  over  to  Ireland. 
Thereupon  the  mother,  closely  questioned  by  him, 
although  in  the  first  instance  denying,  at  length 
confessed  her  sin,  and  doing  penance  according  to 
the  judgment  of  the  Saint,  was  healed  ;  and  she 
wondered  much  at  what  had  been  revealed  to  the 
Saint  concerning  her.  But  Colca,  having  returned 
to  the  Saint,  stayed  with  him  some  days,  and  asking 
concerning  his  own  end  heard  from  the  Saint  this 
answer  :  "  In  thy  own  country,  which  thou  lovest, 
thou  shalt  be  Prior  of  some  church  for  many  years, 
and  if  perchance  at  some  time  thou  shalt  see  thy 
cellarer  making  merry  at  a  supper  of  his  friends, 
and  whirling  round  the  jug  by  the  neck,  know  that 


38  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

in  a  short  time  thou  shalt  die."  What  more  need 
I  say?  This  same  prophecy  of  the  blessed  man 
was  so  fulfilled  in  all  respects  as  had  been  foretold 
concerning  that  same  Colca. 

NOTES 
Colca 
Colcu,  Colgan.     An  Irish  saint. 

Aedh  Draigniche 
Aedh  "of  the  black-thorn." 

Grandsons  of  Fechureg 
Ui  Fiachrach,  a  tribe  whose  territories  were  in  Galway 
and  Mayo. 

Doing  penance  according  to  the  judgment  of  the  Saint, 
was  healed 
Sanata :  healed,  spiritually  healed  after  penitence, 
absolution  and  penance,  as  in  Psalm  cxlvi.  :  "  Qui  sanat 
contritos  corde  et  alligat  contritiones  eorum "  ;  and  in 
Jeremiah  iii.  22 :  "  Et  sanabo  aversiones  vestras"  ;  and 
Jeremiah  viii.  1 1  :  "  Et  sanabant  contritionem  filiae 
populi  mei  ad  ignominiam." 

"Prior  of  some  church " 
The  Latin   is   "Primarius."     The   parish   church   of 
Kilcolgan,  in  Galway,  derives  its  name  from  Colgan. 


XVIII 

CONCERNING  LAISRAN,  THE   GARDENER,   A 
HOLY  MAN. 

The  blessed  man  ordered  a  certain  monk  of  his, 
by  name  Trena,  of  the  tribe  Mac-Ui-Runtir,  to  go 
on  a  certain  day  as  his  messenger  to  Scotia  [Ireland]. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  39 

.rind  he,  obeying  the  command  of  the  man  of  God, 
quickly  prepares  for  the  voyage,  and  he  complains 
in  the  Saint's  presence  that  one  sailor  was  wanting. 
The  Saint  accordingly  answering,  utters  from  his 
sacred  breast  these  words,  saying  :  "  I  cannot  now 
find  for  thee  the  sailor  whom  thou  sayest  is  not 
yet  at  hand.  Go  in  peace  :  until  thou  comest  to 
Hibernia  thou  shalt  have  prosperous  and  favour- 
able winds.  And  thou  shalt  see  a  certain  man 
from  afar  coming  to  meet  thee,  who  will  first  of 
all  the  others  lay  hold  of  the  prow  of  thy  ship  in 
Ireland  :  he  shall  be  the  companion  of  thy  journey 
for  some  days  in  Hibernia,  and  will  accompany 
thee  on  thy  return  thence  to  us  ;  a  man  chosen 
of  God,  who  for  all  the  remainder  of  his  time  will 
live  piously  in  this  my  monastery."  What  more 
can  I  add  ?  Trena,  receiving  a  blessing  from  the 
Saint,  crossed  all  the  seas  with  full  sails  ;  and 
behold,  as  his  little  vessel  was  nearing  the  port, 
Laisran  Mocumoie  runs  up  quicker  than  the  others 
and  catches  hold  of  the  prow.  The  sailors  know 
him  for  the  man  of  whom  the  Saint  had  foretold. 

NOTE 

Mac-  Ui-Runtir 

The  Dal-Ruinntir  were  situated  in  the  western  part 
of  the  county  Louth. 


40  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XIX 

HOW  THE  SAINT,   KNOWING   BEFOREHAND, 
SPOKE   OF   A   GREAT   WHALE. 

On  a  certain  day,  when  the  venerable  man  was 
living  in  the  isle  of  Iona,  a  certain  Brother,  Berach 
by  name,  proposing  to  sail  to  the  Ethican  island 
[Tiree],  coming  to  the  Saint  in  the  morning  asks  to 
be  blessed  by  him.  And  the  Saint,  looking  at  him, 
says  :  "  O  son,  take  very  great  care  to-day  not  to 
attempt  to  cross  over  the  broad  ocean  in  a  direct 
course  for  the  Ethican  land,  but,  rather,  going 
round  about,  sail  by  the  smaller  islands,  for  the 
reason  that,  terrified  by  some  marvellous  monster, 
thou  mayest  narrowly  escape  thence."  And  he 
having  received  the  Saint's  blessing,  departed,  and, 
going  into  the  ship,  set  off  as  though  little  heeding 
the  Saint's  word.  And  then,  crossing  the  wider 
reaches  of  the  Ethican  sea,  he  and  the  sailors  who 
were  there  with  him  look,  and  behold  !  a  whale  of 
wondrous  and  immense  size,  lifting  itself  up  like  a 
mountain,  floating  on  the  surface,  opened  wide  its 
mouth  all  bristling  with  teeth.  Thereupon,  the  sail 
having  been  lowered,  the  rowers  greatly  terrified, 
turned  back,  and  could  hardly  escape  from  the  com- 
motion of  the  waves  arising  from  the  movement  of 
the  monster  ;  and,  remembering  the  Saint's  pro- 
phetic word,  they  marvelled. 

On  the  same  day  also,  Baithene,  being  about  to 
take  ship  for  the  afore-mentioned  island,  the  Saint 
intimated  to  him  in  the  morning-  concerning  that 


LIFE    OF    SAINT    COLUMBA  4' 

same  whale,  saying  :  "  Last  night  at  midnight  a 
great  whale  raised  itself  from  the  depth  of  the  sea, 
and  it  will  lift  itself  to  the  surface  of  the  ocean  to- 
day between  the  Iouan  and  Ethican  islands."  And 
Baithene,  answering  him,  said,  "  I  and  that  beast 
are  under  the  power  of  God."  "  Go  in  peace,"  says 
the  Saint,  "thy  faith  in  Christ  shall  defend  thee 
from  this  danger."  Then  Baithene,  having  received 
the  Saint's  benediction,  sails  out  from  the  harbour, 
and,  no  narrow  stretches  of  the  sea  having  been 
passed  over,  he  and  his  companions  behold  the 
whale,  and  when  all  were  greatly  alarmed,  he  alone, 
undaunted,  with  both  hands  upraised,  blesses  the 
waters  and  the  whale.  And  in  the  same  moment 
the  vast  monster  plunging  beneath  the  waves,  no- 
where appeared  to  them  again. 

NOTES 

The  Iouan  and  Ethican  islands 

I  have  allowed  the  adjectival  form  Ioua  to  stand 
here.  Adamnan  uses  it  thus  throughout  when  referring 
to  Iona. 

The  Ethican  island 

From  Eth,  corn.  It  is  mentioned  in  the  lives  of 
several  Irish  saints  as  Terra  hith ;  and  from  Tir  itha,  the 
Irish  compound  of  that  name,  was  formed  Tirieth,  Tyre-e, 
Tireig,  and  (its  present  form)  Tiree.  It  lies  twenty 
miles  north-west  of  Iona. 

The  direct  course 

This  is  by  the  open  sea.  The  indirect  route  "by  the 
smaller  islands  "  would  be  past  Staffa  to  the  Tresfmish 
islands,  and  thence  westwards  to  the  north  point  of 
Tiree. 


42  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

XX 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING  A 
CERTAIN  BAITAN,  WHO  WITH  OTHERS  SAILED 
FORTH   SEEKING  AN   OCEAN   SOLITUDE. 

At  another  time  a  certain  Baitan,  by  family  a 
descendant  of  Niath  Tolorg,  when  about  to  seek 
with  others  a  solitude  in  the  sea,  asked  to  be  blessed 
by  the  Saint,  to  whom  the  Saint,  bidding  farewell, 
spoke  concerning  him  this  prophetic  word  :  "This 
maiij  who  goes  to  seek  a  solitude  in  the  ocean, 
will  not  be  buried  in  a  solitude,  but  will  be  buried 
in  that  place  where  a  woman  will  drive  sheep 
across  his  grave."  And  so  the  same  Baitan,  after 
long  wanderings  over  stormy  waters,  not  finding 
the  desert,  returned  home  and  remained  there 
many  years  the  master  of  a  small  monastic  house 
which  is  called  in  Scotic  [Irish]  Lathreginden. 
And  dying  after  a  while,  it  happened  at  the  same 
time  when  he  was  buried  in  the  Oak  Grove  of 
Galgach,  that  on  account  of  a  hostile  incursion  the 
common  people  near  to  the  church  of  that  place 
fled  to  it  with  their  wives  and  children.  Whence 
it  happened  that  one  day  a  certain  woman  was 
caught  who  was  driving  her  sheep  over  the  grave 
of  that  same  man,  recently  buried.  And  one  of 
those  who  saw  it,  a  holy  priest,  said,  "  Now  is 
fulfilled  the  prophecy  of  St.  Columba,  uttered  many 
years  ago."  And  this  above-mentioned  priest, 
Mailodran  by  name,  a  soldier  of  Christ,  of  the 
clan  Mocurin,  narrated  these  things  concerning 
Baitan,  and  told  them  to  me. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  43 

NOTES 

An  ocean  solitude 

That  is,  a  desert  island  in  the  ocean,  where  he  might 
live  as  a  hermit. 

Niath  Tolorg 

Niath-champion.     Tolorg  is  a  Pictish  name. 

Lathreginden 

It  has  not  been  identified,  but  was  presumbly  near 
Derry,  "the  Oak  Grove  of  Galgach." 

Of  the  clan  Mocurin 
Or  perhaps  Mocucurin,  Mac-Ui-Curin. 


XXI 

A   PROPHECY   OF  THE   HOLY   MAN   AS   TO   ONE 
NEMAN,   A   MOCK  PENITENT. 

At  another  time  the  Saint  comes  to  the  Hinbinan 
isle,  and  on  the  same  day  orders  that  some  in- 
dulgence in  food  should  be  allowed  even  to  the 
penitents.  But  there  was  there  among  the  peni- 
tents a  certain  Neman,  son  of  Cathir,  who,  bidden 
by  the  Saint,  refused  to  accept  the  little  indulgence 
offered.  Whom  the  Saint  addresses  in  these  words : 
"  O  Neman,  dost  thou  not  accept  some  indul- 
gence in  food  allowed  by  me  and  Baithene?  There 
vvil  be  a  time  in  which  thou  wilt  furtively  eat  mare's 
flesh  with  robbers  in  a  wood."  This  same  man, 
therefore,  having  afterwards  returned  to  the  world, 
was  found  with  robbers  in  a  wood  eating  such 
flesh,  from  a  wooden  grill,  according  to  the  word 
of  the  Saint. 


44  LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

NOTES 

The  Hinbinan  isle 

Probably  Eileann-na-Naoimh,  the  Isle  of  Saints. 
There  are  some  very  interesting  ruins  of  early  buildings 
on  the  island — a  church  and  three  beehive-shaped  cells. 

Indtdgence  in  food 

It  was  usual  in  St.  Columba's  monasteries  to  relax  the 
discipline  on  the  arrival  of  a  visitor. 

Wooden  grill 

The  Latin  word  is  "craticula,"  a  hurdle  grate,  grill, 
or  griddle.  Pocock,  in  his  "Irish  Tour,"  1752,  says: 
' '  I  went  to  the  Causeway  late,  and  Mr.  Duncane  came 
and  dined  with  me,  and  sent  a  fresh  salmon,  which  was 
roasted  before  a  turf  fire  ;  it  was  cut  in  pieces  and  stuck 
on  five  or  six  sticks  set  in  the  ground  round  the  fire,  and 
sometimes  taken  up  and  turned."  Just  such  a  grill 
must  Neman  have  used  in  the  woods. 


XXII 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  UNHAPPY  MAN'S 
TERRIBLE   SIN. 

At  another  time  the  Saint  arouses  the  Brethren 
in  the  dead  of  night,  and  when  they  are  gathered 
together  in  the  church  says  to  them  :  "  Now  let  us 
pray  fervently  to  the  Lord,  for  in  this  hour  some 
sin  unheard  of  in  the  world  has  been  committed, 
for  which  the  vengeance  of  the  judge  is  very 
much  to  be  feared."  And  of  this  sin  he  spoke 
next  day  to  a  few  who  were  questioning  about  it, 
saying  :  "After  a  few  months  that  unhappy  fellow 
will  come  to  the  isle  of  Iona  with  Lugaid,  who  knows 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  45 

not  about  it."  And  so  on  another  day,  some  months 
having  intervened,  the  Saint  speaks  to  Diormit, 
thus  commanding  him  :  "  Rise  quickly  ;  behold 
Lugaid  is  drawing  near  ;  and  tell  him  to  cast  out 
the  wretch  whom  he  has  with  him  in  the  ship  on 
the  Malean  isle  [Mull],  lest  he  tread  the  turf  of 
this  island."  And  he,  obeying  the  Saint's  command, 
goes  to  the  sea  and  tells  Lugaid  as  he  was  approach- 
ing all  the  words  of  the  Saint  concerning  the  un- 
happy man.  On  hearing  which,  that  wretch  swore 
that  he  would  never  take  food  with  others  unless  he 
first  saw  Saint  Columba  and  spoke  to  him.  And 
having  returned  to  the  Saint,  Diormit  related  to 
him  these  words  of  the  wretch.  And  having  heard 
them  the  Saint  goes  down  to  the  haven  ;  and  to 
Baithene,  who  was  suggesting  that  the  repentance 
of  the  wretch  should  be  received,  bringing  for- 
ward passages  of  Holy  Scripture  in  evidence,  the 
Saint  accordingly  says  :  "  O  Baithene,  this  man 
has  committed  fratricide  after  the  manner  of  Cain." 
Then  the  wretch  on  his  bended  knees  on  the  shore 
promised  that  he  would  fulfil  the  rules  of  penance 
according  to  the  sentence  of  the  Saint.  And  the 
Saint  says  to  him  :  "  If  for  twelve  years  thou  do 
penance  among  the  Britons  with  weeping  and  tears, 
and  never  to  thy  dying  day  return  to  Ireland, 
perhaps  God  may  forgive  thy  sin."  Saying  this 
the  Saint,  turning  to  his  own  people,  says  :  "  This 
man  is  a  son  of  perdition,  who  will  not  fulfil  the 
penance  which  he  has  promised,  but  will  soon 
return  to  Scotia  [Ireland],  and  there,  in  a  short  time, 
he  will  perish,  slain  by  his  enemies."     All  which 


46  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

things  so  came  to  pass,  according  to  the  Saint's 
prophecy  ;  for  the  unhappy  man  returning  in  those 
same  days  to  Ireland,  falling  into  the  hands  of  his 
enemies,  was  slain  in  the  region  called  Lea.  He 
was  of  the  descendants  of  Turtre. 

NOTES 
Lugaid 
The  messenger  of  the  monastery. 

The  Malean  isle 

The  island  of  Mull,  off  the  south-west  extremity  of 
which,  and  separated  from  it  by  the  narrow  Sound, 
lies  Iona. 

The  Rules  of  Penance 

"  Leges  penitentise,"  the  penitential  canons.  The 
penitential  code  of  the  Irish  Church  was  extremely  severe. 

According  to  the  sentence  of  the  Saint 
According  to  the  Catholic  Faith,  the  Priest,   as  the 
authorised  minister  of  God,  in  the  tribunal  of  penance  is 
judge  and  has  to  decide  as  to  guilt  and  reparation  due. 

Twelve  years 
A  usual  term  of  monastic  penance. 

Lea 
In  Irish,  Li ;  near  Coleraine. 

Turtre 
In  Irish,  Ui  Tuirtre.     The  Hy-Tuirtre  and  the  Fir-Li 
were  descended  from  Fiachra  Tort,  son  of  Colla  Uais, 
King  of  Ireland,  332.    Their  territory  was  on  the  shores 
of  Lough  Neagh. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  47 


XXIII 

OF  THE  VOWEL-LETTER   "  I." 

One  day  Baithene,  coming  to  the  Saint,  says  : 
"  I  have  need  of  one  of  the  Brethren  to  look  over 
with  me  and  to  revise  the  Psalter  which  I  have 
written."  Having  heard  which,  the  Saint  thus 
speaks  :  "  Why  dost  thou  bring  this  trouble  upon 
us  without  cause?  For.  in  this  thy  Psalter,  of 
which  thou  speakest,  not  one  superfluous  letter  will 
be  found,  nor  is  any  wanting  except  the  vowel  '  I ', 
which  alone  is  missing."  And  so  the  whole  Psalter 
having  been  read  through,  it  was  found  on  examina- 
tion to  be  as  the  Saint  had  foretold. 

NOTE 

To  revise  the  Psalter 

An  interesting  instance  of  the  extreme  care  with  which 
the  Scriptures  were  transcribed  in  the  monasteries. 
Columba  himself  made  writing  one  of  his  chief  duties. 
On  the  day  of  his  death  he  was  busy  with  a  transcription 
of  the  Psalter,  and  he  instructed  his  successor  to  com- 
plete it.  The  debt  of  posterity  to  the  monks  in  this 
respect  cannot  be  estimated  ;  but  for  them  much  of  the 
world's  literature  would  have  perished ;  the  handing 
down  to  us  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  themselves  is  due  to 
their  care.  Peter,  Abbot  of  Cluny,  1094-1157,  wrote 
thus  in  praise  of  literary  occupation  in  monasteries  : 
"Shrubs  cannot  perhaps  be  planted,  nor  seeds  watered, 
nor  any  other  rural  occupation  undertaken  on  account 
of  monastic  retirement.  But,  what  is  of  greater  interest, 
let  the  hand  be  applied  to  the  pen  in  place  of  the  plough ; 
let  the  page  be  sown  with  divine  letters  instead  of 
cultivating  the  field.  Let  the  seeds  of  the  Word  of  God 
be  sown  on  paper,  which,  when  ripe — that  is,  when  the 


48  LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

books  are  finished — may  fill  the  hungry  reader  with 
manifold  fruit  and  appease  the  longing  after  heavenly 
bread.  Thus  truly  shall  you  become  a  silent  preacher 
of  the  Word  of  God,  and  though  your  tongue  be  silent, 
your  hand  shall  sound  in  the  ear  of  many  nations  with 
a  loud  voice.  The  reward  of  your  labours  shall  increase 
after  death,  as  long  as  the  life  of  your  book  continues." 


XXIV 

CONCERNING  A   BOOK    WHICH    FELL   INTO   A  JAR 
OF   WATER   AS   THE   SAINT   HAD   PREDICTED. 

Again  one  day,  sitting  at  the  hearth  in  the  mon- 
astery, he  sees  at  some  distance  Lugbe,  of  the  tribe 
Mocumin,  reading  a  book  ;  to  whom  he  suddenly 
says :  "Take  care,  son,  take  care,  for  I  think  that  the 
book  which  thou  readest  is  about  to  fall  into  a 
vessel  full  of  water."  Which  soon  so  happened, 
for  the  youth  above  mentioned,  after  a  short  time 
rising  to  perform  some  service  in  the  monastery, 
and  having  forgotten  the  word  of  the  blessed  man, 
the  book,  which  he  was  holding  carelessly  under 
his  arm,  suddenly  fell  into  a  jar  full  of  water. 

NOTE 
The  hearth 
Probably  the  kitchen  fire  of  turf  burning  on  a  hearth. 

XXV 

CONCERNING   THE   INK-HORN   AWKWARDLY 
UPSET. 

On  another  day,  about  the  same  time,  a  shout 
was  raised  on  the  other  side  of  the  Strait  of  the  isle 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  49 

of  Iona :  and  the  Saint,  sitting  in  his  little  hut,  which 
rested  on  a  wooden  floor,  hearing  the  shout,  says : 
"  The  man  who  is  shouting  beyond  the  strait  is  not 
a  man  of  refined  sentiment,  for  to-day  he  will  upset 
and  spill  my  ink-horn."  And  Diormit,  his  attend- 
ant, hearing  this  word,  standing  for  a  little  while  in 
front  of  the  gate,  awaited  the  arrival  of  the  trouble- 
some guest  that  he  might  guard  the  ink-horn.  But 
for  some  cause  or  other  he  soon  went  thence  ;  and 
after  he  had  gone  the  troublesome  guest  arrived, 
and  in  eager  haste  to  kiss  the  Saint  upset  the  ink- 
horn,  overturned  by  the  skirt  of  his  garment. 

NOTES 

Little  hut  resting  on  a  wooden  floor 

Columba's  own  cell,  probably  of  boards  or  wattles. 
It  is  again  referred  to  in  III.  xxii,  I.  xxxv,  II.  xvi,  and 
III.  xv.  The  hut  was  built  on  an  eminence,  and  was 
raised  from  the  ground  perhaps  on  tree-stumps  or  boards, 
and  was  reached  by  a  few  steps. 

Ink-horn 

"Corniculum  atramenti."  Representations  of  them 
are  seen  in  ancient  manuscripts.  There  is  one  with  a 
figure  of  St.  Matthew  in  an  Irish  MS.  in  the  Library  of 
the  Monastery  of  St.  Gall,  Codex  No.  1395. 


XXVI 

OF   THE  ARRIVAL   OF  A  CERTAIN   GUEST,  WHOM 
THE   SAINT  ANNOUNCED   BEFOREHAND. 

So  again,  at  another  time,  on  the  third  day  of 
the  week  (Tuesday),  the  Saint  thus  spoke  to  the 
Brethren  :  "  To-morrow,  the  fourth  day,  we  intend 
E 


5o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

to  fast ;  but  nevertheless,  by  the  arrival  of  a  cer- 
tain troublesome  guest,  the  customary  fast  will  be 
broken."  Which  happened,  as  it  had  been  fore- 
shown to  the  Saint ;  for  on  the  morning  of  the 
same  fourth  day  of  the  week  another  stranger  was 
shouting  across  the  Strait,  Aidan  by  name,  son  of 
Fergno,  a  most  religious  man  who,  as  is  said, 
ministered  for  twelve  years  to  Brendan  Mocualti  ; 
and  he,  upon  his  arrival,  occasioned  a  relaxation 
of  that  day's  fast  according  to  the  Saint's  word. 

NOTES 

The  fourth  day  (  Wednesday)  we  intend  to  fast 

The  Wednesday  and  Friday  fasts  were  probably  intro- 
duced into  Ireland  by  St.  Patrick,  and  Saturday  also 
was  observed  as  a  fast  day  by  the  Western  Church. 

Brendan  Mocualti 

St.  Brendan,  of  Clonfert.  Mac-Ua-Alti  was  his  clan 
name. 


XXVII 

OF  A  CERTAIN  MAN  IN  DISTRESS  WHO  WAS  SHOUT- 
ING ACROSS   THE   AFORESAID   STRAIT. 

On  a  certain  day  also,  hearing  some  One  shouting 
across  the  Strait,  the  Saint  speaks  on  this  wise  : 
"  Much  to  be  pitied  is  that  man  who  is  shouting, 
who  comes  to  us  seeking  matters  concerning 
medicines  for  the  body  :  and  it  were  more  fitting 
for  him  to-day  to  do  true  penance  for  his  sins,  for 
at  the  end  of  this  week  he  will  die."  Which  saying, 
those  who  were  present  told  to  the  unhappy  man 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  51 

when  he  arrived.  But  he,  making  light  of  it,  took 
the  things  which  he  had  asked  for  and  quickly 
went  back  ;  and  according  to  the  Saint's  prophetic 
word,  he  died  before  the  end  of  the  same  week. 

NOTE 

Medicines  for  the  body 
St.  Columba's  island  monastery  at  Iona  was  resorted 
to,  as  were  all  other  monasteries,  by  the  sick  and  ailing 
for  medical  treatment. 


XXVIII 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  REGARDING 
A  CITY  IN  THE  ROMAN  EMPIRE,  BURNED 
BY  SULPHUREOUS  FIRE  THAT  FELL  FROM 
HEAVEN. 

Again,  at  another  time,  Lugbe,  of  the  clan  Moc- 
umin,  of  whom  we  have  made  mention  above, 
coming  to  the  Saint  one  day  after  the  threshing 
of  the  corn,  could  by  no  means  look  upon  his  face, 
suffused  as  it  was  with  a  marvellous  glow,  and 
he  immediately  fled  in  great  fear.  Whom  the 
Saint,  gently  clapping  his  hands,  calls  back.  And 
he  returning,  and  being  at  once  questioned  by  the 
Saint  why  he  had  fled  so  quickly,  gave  this  reply :  "  I 
fled  because  I  was  greatly  frightened."  And  after 
some  little  interval,  becoming  more  confident,  he 
ventures  to  question  the  Saint,  saying  :  Has  any 
awful  vision  been  shown  to  thee  in  this  hour?" 
And  the  Saint  gave  him  answer  thus  :  "  Such  a 
terrible  vengeance  has  now  been  wrought  in  a 
remote  part  of  the  world  !  "     "  What  vengeance  ?  " 


52  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

says  the  youth,  "  and  in  what  country  is  it  done  ?  " 
The  Saint  then  speaks  thus :  "  A  sulphureous 
flame  from  heaven  has  this  hour  been  sent  down 
upon  a  city  of  the  Roman  Empire,  situated  within 
the  boundaries  of  Italy;  and  nearly  three  thousand 
men,  besides  a  number  of  mothers  and  children, 
have  perished.  And  before  the  present  year  is 
ended  Gallic  sailors,  coming  hither  from  the 
provinces  of  the  Gauls,  shall  relate  these  same 
things  to  thee."  Which  words,  after  some  months, 
were  proved  to  have  been  true.  For  the  same 
Lugbe,  going  with  the  holy  man  to  the  Land's  Head 
[Cantyre],  questioning  the  captain  and  the  sailors 
of  a  bark  that  arrived,  hears  narrated  by  them  all 
those  things  concerning  the  city  with  its  citizens, 
just  as  they  were  foretold  by  the  illustrious  man. 

NOTES 

A  city  of  the  Roman  Empire 

The  Alvum  of  Ptolemy,  now  Citta  Nuova,  north  of 
the  river  Quieto,  in  Istria. 

Gallic  sailors 

There  was  frequent  intercourse  between  Gaul,  Britain, 
and  Ireland. 

Land's  Head 

Cantyre.     Fifty  miles  from  Iona  by  sea. 

From  this  chapter  it  is  clear  that  the  monks  of  Iona 
in  the  time  of  St.  Columba  were  in  active  sympathy  and 
touch  with  their  brethren  in  Italy  and  Gaul. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  53 


XXIX 

A  VISION   OF  THE  BLESSED   MAN   CONCERNING 
LAISRAN,   SON   OF   FERADACH. 

One  wintry  and  very  cold  day  the  Saint,  afflicted 
by  a  great  sorrow,  wept.  And  his  attendant, 
Diormit,  questioning  him  as  to  the  cause  of  his 
sadness,  received  from  him  this  reply  :  "  Not  with- 
out reason,  child,  am  I  sad  in  this  hour,  seeing 
as  I  do  my  monks  now  wearied  with  heavy  labour, 
whom  Laisran  is  vexing  with  the  erection  of  some 
very  great  building ;  a  thing  which  greatly  displeases 
me."  Wonderful  to  say,  at  that  very  moment 
Laisran,  dwelling  in  the  monastery  of  the  Oakwood 
Plain,  under  some  compulsion,  and  as  it  were  fired 
by  some  internal  flame,  orders  the  monks  to  stop 
working  and  some  food  for  refreshment  to  be 
prepared ;  and  not  only  to  take  their  ease  on  that 
day,  but  to  rest  also  on  other  days  of  severe 
weather.  And  the  Saint,  hearing  in  spirit  these  con- 
solatory words  spoken  by  Laisran  to  the  Brethren, 
ceased  to  weep  ;  and  though  himself  living  in  the 
isle  of  Iona,  related  them  throughout,  rejoicing 
exceedingly,  to  the  Brethren  who  were  there  at  the 
time  ;  and  he  blessed  Laisran,  the  comforter  of  the 
monks. 

NOTES 
Laisran,  son  of  Feradach 

He  succeeded  Baithen  as  Abbot  of  Hy  (Iona),  Baithen 
having  been  the  successor  of  Columba.  Laisran's  father 
was  the  Saints  first  cousin. 


54  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Some  very  great  building 

In  the  heading  of  Book  III.  ch.  xv.  this  is  called 
"  monasterium  rotundum,"  no  doubt  one  of  the  famous 
round  towers. 

The  Oakwood  Plain 

"  Roboretus  Campus,"  Dair-Magh,  Durrow. 


XXX 

CONCERNING  FEACHNA  THE  WISE,  HOW  HE  CAME 
AS  A  PENITENT  TO  ST.  COLUMBA  WHO  FORE- 
ANNOUNCED   HIM. 

At  another  time  the  Saint,  sitting  on  the  top  of 
the  hill  which  from  afar  rises  above  this  our  monas- 
tery, having  turned  to  his  attendant,  Diormit,  spoke, 
saying  :  "  I  wonder  why  a  certain  ship  from  Scotia 
[Ireland]  is  approaching  so  slowly  ;  and  it  brings 
a  certain  sage,  who,  having  fallen  into  some  guilt, 
is  going  through  a  tearful  penance,  and  will  soon 
arrive."  Not  very  long  after,  the  attendant,  looking 
southwards,  sees  the  sail  of  a  ship  nearing  the 
haven.  And  when  he  pointed  it  out  to  the  Saint  as 
it  was  approaching  he  quickly  rises,  saying,  "  Let  us 
go  to  meet  the  stranger,  whose  true  penance  Christ 
accepts."  But  Feachna,  descending  from  the  ship, 
runs  up  to  meet  the  Saint  on  his  way  to  the  port, 
with  weeping  and  lamentation.  Kneeling  down  on 
bended  knees  at  his  feet,  he  most  bitterly  bewails 
and  confesses  his  sins  in  the  presence  of  all  who 
were  there.  Then  the  Saint,  weeping  in  the  same 
way  along  with  him,  says  to  him  :  "  Arise,  son,  and 
be  comforted  ;  the  sins  which  thou  hast  committed 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  55 

are  forgiven  thee,  because,  as  it  is  written,  "  A 
contrite  and  humble  heart  God  doth  not  despise." 
And  he,  rising,  was  joyfully  received  by  the  Saint, 
and  after  some  days  was  sent  journeying  in  peace 
to  Baithene,  at  that  time  dwelling  as  prelate  in  the 
Plain  of  Lunge. 

NOTES 

On  the  top  of  the  hill 

Either  Dun-i,  the  highest  hill  on  the  island  (330  feet), 
or  Cnoc-mor  which  overhangs  the  village,  Reilig-Orain  ; 
probably  the  latter,  and  if  so,  the  haven  to  which  the 
ship  was  sailing  would  be  Port-na-Mairtear,  or  Martyr's 
Bay.  The  usual  landing  place,  however,  was  Port 
Ronain,  near  the  village. 

Baithene  .  .  .  prelate 
In  ch.  xli.  and  III.  viii.  Baithene  again  appears  as  head 
of  the  penitential  house  of  the  Plain  of  Lunge,  "  Plain  of 
the  Ships,"  in  Ethica  terra  (Tiree).  It  was  probably 
near  the  creek  called  Port-na-lung,  where  Soroby  now  is, 
and  where  in  the  old  burying  ground  stands  a  very  ancient 
cross. 

XXXI 

THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
HIS   MONK,   CAILTAN. 

At  another  time,  sending  two  monks  to  another 
monk  of  his,  Cailtan  by  name,  who  at  that  time  was 
Superior  in  the  Cell  which  to-day  is  called  by  the 
name  of  his  brother  Diuni,  adjacent  to  the  Lake  of 
the  River  Aba,  the  Saint  sends  by  those  messengers 
these  words  :  "  Haste  ye  quickly  to  Cailtan,  and 
say  to  him  that  he  come  to  me  without  the  least 
delay."     And  they  obeying  the  Saint's  word,  going 


56  LIFE   OF   SAINT  COLUMBA 

forth,  coming  to  the  cell  of  Diuni  intimated  to 
Cailtan  the  nature  of  their  mission.  And  he,  in 
the  same  hour,  on  no  account  delaying,  followed 
the  messengers  of  the  Saint,  a  companion  of  their 
journey,  and  quickly  came  to  him  dwelling  in  the 
Iouan  Isle.  Whom  seeing,  the  Saint,  thus  speaking, 
addresses  in  these  words  :  "  O  Cailtan,  well  hast 
thou  done,  obediently  hastening  to  me  ;  rest  thee 
awhile.  It  was  for  this  reason,  loving  thee  as  a 
friend,  that  I  sent  to  thee,  inviting  thee  that  here 
with  me  thou  mayest  finish  the  course  of  thy  life  in 
true  obedience.  For  before  the  end  of  this  week 
thou  wilt  depart  in  peace  unto  the  Lord."  Which 
having  heard,  he  gave  thanks  to  God,  and  kissed 
the  Saint,  weeping,  and,  his  blessing  being  received 
from  him,  goes  to  the  guest  house  ;  and  falling 
sick  on  that  same  night  following,  he  passed  away 
to  Christ  the  Lord  that  same  week,  according  to 
the  Saint's  word. 

NOTE 
The  Lake  of  the  River  Aba 
Probably  Loch  Awe. 


XXXII 

THE  FORESIGHT  AND  PROPHECY  OF  THE  SAINT 
CONCERNING  TWO  BROTHERS  WHO  WERE 
STRANGERS. 

One  Lord's  Day  there  was  shouting  beyond  the 
often  mentioned  Strait.  Which  shout  the  Saint 
hearing,  he  says  to  the  Brethren  who  were  there, 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  57 

"Go  quickly,  and  bring  at  once  the  strangers 
coming  to  us  from  a  distant  land."  And  they, 
immediately  obeying,  crossing  the  Strait,  brought 
the  guests,  and  the  Saint  having  kissed  them,  then 
asks  them  the  object  of  their  journey.  And  they 
answering  say  :  "  We  are  come  that  we  may  dwell 
with  thee  even  for  this  year."  To  whom  the  Saint 
gave  this  reply:  "Ye  cannot  sojourn  with  me  for 
the  space  of  one  year  as  ye  say,  unless  you  first 
make  the  monastic  vow."-  Those  who  were  present 
much  wondered  that  this  should  be  said  to  guests 
just  arrived  that  very  hour.  To  which  words  of  the 
Saint,  the  elder  brother  answering  says,  "  Although 
up  to  the  present  hour  we  never  had  this  purpose 
in  mind,  yet  we  will  follow  thy  counsel,  divinely 
inspired  as  we  believe  it  to  be."  What  more  need 
be  said  ?  At  that  same  moment  entering  the 
oratory  with  the  Saint,  devoutly  and  on  bended 
knees  they  took  the  monastic  vow.  Then  the 
Saint,  turning  to  the  Brethren,  says  :  "  These  two 
strangers,  offering  themselves  a  living  sacrifice  to 
God,  and  in  a  short  time  fulfilling  a  long  space  of 
Christian  warfare,  will  soon,  in  this  very  month, 
pass  away  to  Christ  the  Lord  in  peace."  Hearing 
which  both  brothers,  giving  thanks  to  God, 
were  conducted  to  the  guest  house  ;  and  seven 
days  having  passed  the  elder  brother  began  to 
sicken,  and  at  the  end  of  the  same  week  departed 
to  the  Lord.  And  in  like  manner  the  other, 
after  seven  other  days,  fell  ill  and  happily  passed 
away  to  the  Lord  at  the  end  of  that  week.  And 
so,  according  to  the  true  prophecy  of  the  Saint, 


58  LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

within  the  limit  of  the  same  month,  both  end  this 
present  life. 

NOTES 
They  took  the  monastic  vow 
This  is  an  instance  of  admission  to  the  monastic  order 
without  the  usual  year  of  probation.     Hence  the  surprise 
of  the  Brethren. 

A  living  sacrifice  to  God 
Rom.  xii.  7. 

In  a  short  time  fulfilling  a  long  space  of  Christian 

warfare 
St.  Columba  refers  here  to  the  Book  of  Wisdom, 
iv.  13,  "Consummatusin  brevi  explevit  tempora  multa", 
"  Being  made  perfect  in  a  short  space  he  fulfilled  a  long 
time  ".  The  quotation  from  Wisdom  is  interesting  as 
showing  St.  Columba's  familiarity  with  one  of  the 
Sacred  Books  now  classed  by  the  Church  of  England 
among  the  Apocrypha.  The  late  Queen  Victoria  selected 
this  phrase  for  the  monument  she  raised  near  Balmoral 
to  the  memory  of  Prince  Albert. 

XXXIII 

THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
A  CERTAIN  ARTBRANAN. 

When  the  blessed  man  was  staying  for  some 
days  in  the  Scian  Isle  [Skye],  striking  with  his  staff 
a  little  spot  of  ground  of  a  certain  place  near  the 
sea,  he  thus  speaks  to  his  companions  :  "  Wonderful 
to  say,  O  my  children,  this  day  in  this  spot  of 
ground  a  certain  aged  heathen,  who  has  kept  his 
natural  innocence  throughout  all  his  life,  will  be 
baptised,  and  will  die,  and  will  be  buried."  And 
behold,  after  the  interval  of  about  one  hour,  a  vessel 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  59 

arrived  at  the  same  port,  in  the  bows  of  which  a 
certain  decrepit  old  man  was  borne,  the  chief  of  the 
Cohort  of  Geona,  and  two  youths,  lifting  him  out 
of  the  ship,  set  him  down  before  the  eyes  of  the 
blessed  man.  And  he,  having  received  the  Word  of 
God  from  the  Saint  through  an  interpreter,  forthwith 
believing,  was  baptised  by  him,  and  after  the  minis- 
trations of  baptism  were  completed,  as  the  Saint 
had  prophesied,  he  thereupon  died  in  the  same 
place,  and  there  his  comrades  bury  him,  a  cairn 
being  raised  over  him.  And  this  is  to  be  seen  to- 
day on  the  sea  shore  ;  and  the  river  of  the  same 
place  in  which  he  had  received  baptism  is  to  this 
very  day  called  by  the  inhabitants  from  his  name, 
"  Dobur  Artbranani." 

NOTES 
Artbranan 
A  Gaelic  and  Pictish  name ;  Art,  noble,  and  branan 
diminutive  of  b)'ait,  a  raven. 

His  natural  innocence 
"  Naturale  bonum"  :  the  moral  law  of  nature,  of  the 
natural  reason.    The  phrase  is  used  again  in  Book  III.  xiv. 

The  Cohort  of  Geona 
Geona   can   hardly   be   the    small    island   of    Gunna 
between  Tiree  and  Coll.     The  Cohort  was  probably  a 
Pictish  one. 

Through  an  interpreter 

St.  Columba,  therefore,  did  not  know  the  Pictish 
language,  one  of  the  four  which  the  Venerable  Bede 
says  were  spoken  in  Britain.  King  Oswald,  he  tells 
us,  brought  under  his  dominion  "all  the  nations  and 
provinces  of  Britain  which  are  divided  into  four  lan- 
guages, namely,  the  Britons,  the  Picts,  the  Scots,  and 
the  English." 


6o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

A  cairn  being  raised 

It  is  interesting  to  know  that  St.  Columba  consented 
to  the  burial  in  heathen  fashion  of  him  whom  he  had 
just  received  into  the  Church.  The  heathen  comrades 
of  Artbranan  would  naturally  wish  thus  to  commemorate 
their  leader. 

Dobur  A7-tbranani 

Dobur,  or  Dobhar,  is  a  common  name  in  Gaelic  and 
Cymric  for  water.  The  stream  has  not  been  identified. 
There  are  in  Skye  a  loch,  an  island,  and  a  church  all 
bearing  the  name  of  St.  Columba. 


XXXIV 

CONCERNING  THE   REMOVAL  OF   A   BOAT   BY 
ORDER  OF  THE  SAINT. 

At  another  time,  travelling  beyond  the  "  Back- 
bone of  Britain"  [Drum  Alban,  the  Grampians], 
having  found  among  desert  fields  a  certain  little 
village,  the  Saint,  taking  up  his  abode  there  by  the 
bank  of  a  certain  rivulet  at  its  entrance  into  a  lake, 
on  the  same  night  wakes  his  sleeping  companions, 
half  asleep  as  they  were,  saying  :  "  Now,  now,  go, 
quickly  going  out,  and  bring  ye  hither  at  once  our 
boat  which  ye  have  put  in  a  house  on  the  other 
side  of  the  stream,  and  put  it  in  a  nearer  hut."  And 
they,  immediately  obeying,  did  as  they  were  bid. 
And  when  they  were  again  at  rest  the  Saint,  after 
a  while,  quietly  nudges  Diormit,  saying :  "  Stand- 
ing now  outside  the  house,  look  you  what  is  going 
on  in  that  village  where  you  first  put  your  boat." 
And  he,  obeying  the  Saint's  order,  goes  out  of  the 
house,  and,  looking,  sees  the  whole  village  being 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  61 

burnt  up  by  devouring  flame.  And  returning  to 
the  Saint,  he  told  him  what  was  going  on  there. 
Then  the  Saint  told  the  Brethren  about  a  certain 
rival,  his  enemy,  who  had  burned  those  houses  that 
same  night. 

NOTES 

The  Backbone  of  Britain 

The  dorsal  ridge  of  Drum  Alban,  the  mountain  chain 
between  Perthshire  and  Argyle,  the  watershed  of  Scot- 
land, and  the  division  between  the  Picts  on  the  east  and 
the  Scots  on  the  west. 

A  certain  rivulet  flowing  into  a  lake 
In  the  list  of  chapter  headings  of  the  original  the  lake 
is  called  Stagnum  Loch-diae.     It  has  not  been  identified. 

Your  boat  (JVavicula) 

This  would  be  a  wickerwork  hide-covered  currach,  or 
coracle,  which  the  Saint  and  his  companions  carried 
with  them  for  crossing  lakes  and  rivers. 


XXXV 

CONCERNING  GALLAN,  SON  OF  FACHTNA,  WHO 
WAS  IN  THE  PROVINCE  OF  COLGA,  SON  OF 
CALLACH. 

Again,  one  day,  the  Saint,  sitting  in  his  little 
hut,  prophesies  to  the  same  Colga  who  was  read- 
ing by  his  side,  and  says:  "Now  are  demons 
bearing  away  to  hell  an  extortioner,  one  of  the 
chiefs  of  thy  province."  But  Colga  hearing  this, 
and  writing  down  the  time  and  the  hour  on  a 
tablet,  after  some  months  returning  home,  found 
on  inquiry  from  the  inhabitants  of  that  region  that 


62  LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Gallan,  son  of  Fachtna,  had  died  at  that  very 
moment  of  time  in  which  the  blessed  man  had 
told  him  of  one  who  was  carried  off  by  demons. 


XXXVI 

PROPHECY  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN  CONCERNING 
FINDCHAN,  THE  PRIEST,  FOUNDER  OF  THAT 
MONASTERY  WHICH  IN  SCOTIC  [IRISH]  IS 
CALLED  ARTCHAIN,  IN  THE  ETHICAN  LAND. 

At  another  time,  the  above-mentioned  priest, 
Findchan,  a  soldier  of  Christ,  brought  with  him 
from  Ireland  to  Britain,  wearing  the  clerical  habit, 
Aedh,  surnamed  "the  Black,"  a  scion  of  a  royal 
family,  a  Cruthinian  [Irish  Pict]  by  nation,  that  he 
might  stay  with  him  in  his  monastery  for  some 
years.  And  this  Aedh  the  Black  had  indeed  been 
a  very  bloodthirsty  man  and  a  murderer  of  many  ; 
and  he  had  even  slain  Diormit,  son  of  Cerbal, 
ordained,  by  God's  will,  ruler  of  all  Ireland.  This 
same  Aedh,  therefore,  after  some  time  passed  in  re- 
tirement, having  summoned  a  bishop,  was  ordained 
priest,  although  somewhat  irregularly,  while  with 
the  above-named  Findchan.  The  Bishop,  how- 
ever, did  not  dare  to  lay  hand  upon  his  head 
unless  first  Findchan  himself,  who  loved  Aedh 
with  mere  human  affection,  would  first  place  his 
right  hand  upon  his  head  in  approval.  And  when 
this  ordination  was  afterwards  made  known  to  the 
holy  man,  he  was  deeply  grieved  :  then  forthwith  he 


LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA  63 

pronounced  concerning  Findchan  himself,  and  con- 
cerning Aedh  thus  ordained  this  fearful  sentence, 
saying  :  "  That  right  hand  which,  against  law  and 
ecclesiastical  rite,  Findchan  has  laid  upon  the  head 
of  the  son  of  perdition  shall  soon  rot,  and  after 
great  tortures  of  pain  shall  go  before  him  into  the 
earth  for  burial  ;  and  he  himself  shall  live  for  many- 
years  after  the  burial  of  his  hand.  But  Aedh,  im- 
properly ordained,  will  return  as  a  dog  to  his  vomit, 
and  be  again  a  bloody  murderer  ;  and  at  last  his 
throat  shall  be  pierced  by  a  lance  and  falling  from 
wood  into  water,  he  will  die  by  drowning.  Such  an 
end  of  life  he  who  murdered  the  King  of  all  Scotia 
[Ireland]  has  long  ago  deserved."  Which  prophecy 
of  the  blessed  man  was  in  each  case  fulfilled  ;  for 
the  right  hand  of  the  presbyter,  Findchan,  having 
rotted  through  a  blow,  went  before  him  into  the 
earth,  being  buried  in  that  island  which  is  called 
Ommon  ;  but  he  himself,  according  to  the  word 
of  Saint  Columba,  lived  for  many  years  after. 
But  Aedh  "the  Black,"  priest  only  in  name, 
having  returned  to  his  former  wickednesses,  was 
treacherously  pierced  by  a  lance,  fell  from  the 
prow  of  a  raft  into  the  water  of  a  lake,  and 
perished. 

NOTES 
Findchan,  the  presbyter 
His  life  is  given  by  Colgan,  "  Acta  Sanctorum  ",  1645. 

Artchain  in  the  Ethican  land 
Artchain,  or  Ardchaoin,  was  a  hill  in  the  Ethican  land, 
i.e.   the  island  of  Tiree,  but   has  not  been   identified. 
Tiree  was  much  frequented  by  the  religious  of  Ireland  ; 


64  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Saints  Brendan,  Cainnech,  Comgall,  and  Colmanela  all 
visited  it. 

Aedk,  surnamed"  the  Black,''''  sprungfrom  a  royal family , 
Cruthinian  by  nation 
Aedh  Dubh,  son  of  Suibhne,  of  the  Dal  Araidhe, 
who  inhabited  parts  of  Antrim  and  Down,  and  were 
known  also  as  the  Cruithne.  He  was  chief  of  that 
tribe  565,  King  of  Uladh  581,  and  died  588. 

Diorviit,  son  of  Cerbal 

Diarmid  MacCearrbhal's  death  is  recorded  in  the 
Annals,  anno  558  :  "  After  Diarmid,  the  son  of  Fergus 
Cearrbhal,  had  been  twenty  years  King  of  Ireland,  he 
was  killed  by  Aedh  Dubh,  the  son  of  Suibhne,  King  of 
Dalaradia.  His  head  was  taken  to  Clonmacnoise  to  be 
buried  there  and  his  body  to  Connor."  Diarmid  ruled 
over  all  Ireland,  his  royal  seat  being  at  Tara. 

This  same  Aedh  .   .   .  was  ordained  presbyter,  etc. 

Aedh  took  the  monastic  habit  as  a  penance,  quite  a 
common  practice  among  the  Irish  and  other  royal  person- 
ages then  and  later.  Seven  years  was  the  time  of 
penance  to  be  done  under  monastic  rule  for  homicide. 
Aedh  violated  God's  law,  which  requires  proved  virtue  in 
Deacon,  Priest,  and  Bishop.  The  early  Canons  excluded 
from  Holy  Orders  all  who  lost  their  baptismal  innocence, 
and  the  rigour  of  public  penance,  far  from  removing 
this  defect,  was  regarded  as  a  public  proof  of  unworthi- 
ness.  Aedh's  ordination  by  the  bishop  was  valid,  but 
he  was  priest  only  in  name,  as  Adamnan  says,  because 
he  wanted  the  virtue  becoming  his  sacred  character. 

That  island  called  Ommon 
It  has  not  been  identified. 

Treacherously  pierced  by  a  lance  .   .   .  perished 

All  the  principal  Irish  Annals  mention  the  death  of 
Aedh  Dubh.     He  was  "  slain  by  Fiachna,  son  of  Baedan 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  65 

...  in  a  ship  by  the  Cruithneans  ",  probably  on  Lough 
Neagh,  near  which  was  Rathmore,  his  regal  seat. 

"Aedh  Dubh,  son  of  mild-judging  Suibhne, 
Seven  years  was  his  fame  on  this  earth  ; 
The  marks  of  Cruithnean  weapons  in  his  wounds, 
Fierce  and  active  in  deeds  was  he." 


XXXVII 

OF  A  CERTAIN  SPIRITUAL  CONSOLATION  SENT 
BY  THE  HOLY  MAN  TO  THE  MONKS  ON 
THEIR   WAY    BACK,   WEARY    FROM   TOIL. 

Among  these  wonderful  manifestations  of  pro- 
phetic spirit  it  does  not  seem  out  of  place  to 
commemorate  also  in  our  little  record  a  certain 
spiritual  consolation  which  the  monks  of  St. 
Columba  felt  on  one  occasion  from  his  spirit 
meeting  them  by  the  way.  For  once,  as  the 
Brethren  after  harvest  work,  returning  to  the 
monastery  in  the  evening  and  arriving  at  that  place 
which  is  called  in  Scotic  [Irish]  Cuuleilne,  which 
place  is  said  to  be  midway  between  the  western 
plain  of  the  island  of  Iona  and  our  monastery, 
they  seemed  each  one  to  feel  within  himself 
something  wonderful  and  unusual,  which,  however, 
they  dared  not  speak  of  the  one  to  the  other. 
And  so  for  some  days,  in  the  same  place  and  at 
the  same  evening  hour,  they  perceived  it.  But  in 
those  days  St.  Baithene  was  the  superintendent  of 
labours  among  them,  and  one  day  he  spoke  thus 
to  them  saying,  "  Now,  Brothers,  if  ye  unexpectedly 
experience  anything  unusual  and  wonderful  in  this 

F 


66  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

place,  half-way  between  the  harvest  field  and  the 
monastery,  ye  ought  to  declare  it,  each  one  of  you." 

Then  one  of  them,  a  senior,  says  :  "  According 
to  thy  order  I  will  tell  thee  what  has  been 
shown  to  me  in  this  place  ;  for  in  these  days  past, 
and  even  now,  I  perceive  some  fragrance  of  a 
marvellous  odour,  as  if  that  of  all  flowers  collected 
into  one  ;  and  also  a  certain  burning  as  of  fire, 
not  painful,  but  as  it  were  soothing ;  and,  besides, 
a  certain  unaccustomed  and  incomparable  joy 
spread  abroad  in  my  heart,  which  of  a  sudden 
consoles  me  in  a  wonderful  way,  and  so  greatly 
gladdens  me  that  I  can  remember  sadness  no 
more,  labour  no  more.  Aye  !  and  the  load,  albeit 
heavy,  which  I  am  carrying  on  my  back  from  this 
place  until  we  come  to  the  monastery,  is  so  much 
lightened,  how  I  know  not,  that  I  do  not  feel  that 
I  am  bearing  any  burden." 

What  more  shall  I  say?  So  all  the  harvest 
workers  one  by  one  declare,  each  one  for  himself, 
that  they  had  felt  exactly  as  this  one  of  them 
who  had  first  spoken,  and  one  and  all  together 
on  bended  knees  besought  St.  Baithene  that  he 
would  let  them  know,  ignorant  as  they  were,  the 
cause  and  origin  of  that  wondrous  consolation 
which  he  himself  felt  just  as  the  rest  perceived  it. 
To  whom,  thereupon,  he  gave  this  answer  saying : 
'•Ye  know  that  our  senior,  Columba,  mindful  of 
our  toil,  thinks  anxiously  about  us  and  grieves 
that  we  come  to  him  so  late  ;  and  by  reason  that 
he  comes  not  in  body  to  meet  us,  his  spirit  meets 
our  steps,  and  that  it  is  which  so  much  consoles 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  67 

and  makes  us  glad.  And  hearing  these  words,  still 
kneeling,  with  great  joy  and  with  hands  spread 
out  to  heaven,  they  venerate  Christ  in  the  holy  and 
blessed  man. 

But  we  ought  not  to  be  silent  as  to  what  has 
confidently  been  handed  down  by  some  who  have 
put  it  to  the  test  concerning  the  voice  of  the  blessed 
man  in  chanting  the  Psalms.  For  the  voice  of  the 
venerable  man,  chanting  with  the  Brethren  in  the 
church,  was  lifted  up  in  a  wonderful  manner  and 
sometimes  heard  for  four  furlongs,  that  is  500  paces ; 
sometimes  indeed  for  eight  furlongs,  that  is  a  mile. 
Wonderful  to  relate  !  yet  in  the  ears  of  those  who 
were  standing  with  him  in  the  church  the  pitch  of 
his  voice  did  not  exceed  the  compass  of  the  human 
voice.  But  nevertheless  at  the  same  hour,  those 
who  were  standing  more  than  a  mile  off  heard  the 
same  voice  so  clearly  that  they  could  distinguish 
every  separate  syllable  of  the  verses  which  he  was 
singing  :  for  his  voice  sounded  alike  in  the  ears  of 
those  who  heard  it  near  at  hand  and  those  who 
heard  it  from  afar.  But  this  miracle  of  the  voice 
of  the  blessed  man  is  not  known  to  have  happened 
continually,  but  rarely  ;  which,  however,  without 
the  grace  of  the  Divine  Spirit,  could  by  no  means 
have  happened  at  all. 

But  we  must  not  be  silent  concerning  what  is 
said  once  to  have  happened  as  regards  this  incom- 
parable elevation  of  his  voice  near  the  fortress  of 
King  Brude.  For  while  the  Saint  himself,  with  a 
few  brethren,  was  celebrating  according  to  custom 
the  Vesper  praises  of  God  outside  the  King's  fort- 


68  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

ress,  certain  Magi  [Druids]  approaching  them  did 
all  they  could  to  prevent  the  sound  of  Divine  praise 
being  heard  from  their  mouth  among  the  heathen 
people.  On  this  becoming  known,  the  Saint  began 
to  chant  the  forty-fourth  psalm,  and  in  a  marvellous 
manner  his  voice  was  at  that  moment  so  lifted  up 
into  the  air,  like  terrible  thunder,  that  both  King 
and  people  were  affrighted  with  fear  intolerable. 

NOTES 
Cuuleilne 
Half-way  between  the  "  Campulum,"  the  Machar,  or 
plain,  of  the  island  of  Iona  and  the  monastery  is  a  spot 
called  Bol-lethne,  which  may  be  a  corruption  of  the 
original  name.  From  the  narrative  it  would  seem  that 
it  was  here  that  the  most  laborious  part  of  the  way  began, 
and  at  Bol-leithne  there  is  an  ascent,  and  the  path 
becomes  rugged. 

St.  Baithene 

He  was  one  of  the  original  companions  of  St.  Columba, 
and  was  head  of  a  monastic  settlement  in  Tiree.  In  the 
narrative  he  was  holding  the  office  of  dispensator  operum 
in  Iona.  He  became  Abbot  of  Iona  after  St.  Columba's 
death. 

The  Voice  of  the  venerable  man 

The  Saint  was  possessed  of  his  wonderful  voice  even 
in  his  boyhood.  In  the  ancient  Irish  Life  of  Columba, 
in  the  Leabhar  Breac,  the  Book  of  Lismore,  it  is 
written : — 

"  The  sound  of  the  Voice  of  Columbkille 
Great  its  sweetness  above  all  clerics  : 
To  the  end  of  fifteen  hundred  paces, 
Though  great  the  distance,  it  was  distinctly  heard." 

The  fortress  of  King  Brude 

From  Book  II.  we  learn  that  this  was  near  the  north- 
eastern end  of  Loch  Ness,  probably  on  the  ridge  called 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  69 

Torvean,    part   of  which   is  encircled   by   ditches   and 
ramparts. 

The  Vesper  praises  of  God 

"  Vesper tinales  Dei  laudes." 

Certain  Magi 

The  word  Magi  is  always  used  in  the  Acts  of  the  Irish 
Saints  to  mean  the  Druids. 

The  forty -fourth  Psalm 

That  is,  according  to  the  Septuagint  and  Latin  Ver- 
sions used  by  St.  Columba  ;  the  45th  according  to  the 
Hebrew  and  Authorised  English  Version.  "  Eructavit 
cor  meum." 

XXXVIII 

CONCERNING    A    CERTAIN    RICH    MAN    WHO    WAS 
CALLED   LUGUD   CLODUS 

At  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was  staying  in 
Scotia  [Ireland]  for  some  days,  seeing  another  cleric 
sitting  in  a  car,  who  was  gaily  driving  over  the 
Plain  of  Breg,  after  first  inquiring  about  him  who 
he  was,  he  received  this  reply  concerning  him  from 
the  man's  friends :  "  This  is  Lugud  Clodus,  a  man 
rich  and  honoured  among  the  people."  The  Saint, 
thereupon  answering,  says  :  "  Not  so  do  I  see 
him,  but  as  a  wretched  and  poor  fellow.  On  the 
day  on  which  he  will  die  he  will  be  retaining  at 
his  dwelling,  in  a  walled  pound,  three  stray  cattle 
of  his  neighbours,  and  of  these  he  will  order 
one  choice  cow  to  be  slain  for  himself,  and  will 
ask  for  some  part  of  its  flesh  to  be  cooked  and 
given  him,  he  lying  the  while  in  a  couch  of  shame 
and  sin.     From  which  portion,  as  soon  as  he  takes 


7o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

a  bite,  he  will  thereon  be  immediately  choked,  and 
die."  All  which  things,  as  is  handed  down  by  well- 
informed  persons,  were  fulfilled  according  to  the 
Saint's  prophetic  saying. 

NOTES 
Mounted  on  a  car 

Patrick  Chalmers,  in  his  "Ancient  Sculptured  Monu- 
ments of  Angus  ",  gives  a  drawing  of  an  ancient  car  from 
a  monument  in  the  church  of  Meigle,  in  Perthshire.  It 
was  in  such  a  car  that  St.  Columba  saw  Ludug  Clodus 
"gaily  driving." 

The  Plain  of  Breg 

In  the  eastern  part  of  the  County  Meath.  The  name 
survives  in  Slieve  Bregh,  a  hill  in  the  north-eastern  part 
of  that  county. 

Walled  pound 

"Maceria":  in  Irish,  Caskel.  In  the  Book  of  Ar- 
magh is  a  charter  of  a.d.  1004,  which  styles  the 
southern  kings,  "  Reges  Macerige",  kings  of  Cashel. 
The  fortified  farms  of  the  Campagna  in  Italy  are  known 
as  Maseria. 


XXXIX 

PROPHECY  OF  THE   SAINT    CONCERNING    NEMAN, 
SON   OF  GRUTHRICHE. 

Now,  therefore,  when  the  Saint  corrected  Neman 
for  his  evil  deeds,  thinking  lightly  of  the  Saint  he 
mocked  him.  And  replying  to  him,  the  blessed  man 
says  :  "  In  the  Name  of  the  Lord,  Neman,  I  will 
speak  some  words  of  truth  concerning  thee.  Thine 
enemies  shall  find  thee  lying  in  the  same  bed  with 
a  harlot,  and  there  shalt  thou  be  slain.     Demons 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  71 

also  will  carry  off  thy  soul  to  the  places  of  punish- 
ments." This  same  Neman  being  found  after 
some  years  in  a  couch  of  shame,  in  the  district 
of  Cainle,  perished,  beheaded  by  his  enemies, 
according  to  the  Saint's  word. 

NOTE 
In  the  district  of  Cainle 
Called  Mons  Cainle  in  the  next  book,  chapter  xvii., 
but  not  identified. 

XL 

PROPHECY   OF  THE   HOLY   MAN   CONCERNING  A 
CERTAIN   PRIEST. 

At  another  time  the  Saint,  when  he  was  stay- 
ing in  the  district  of  the  Scots  [Irish],  mentioned 
a  little  above,  by  chance  came  on  the  Lord's 
Day  to  a  certain  little  neighbouring  monastery 
which  is  called  in  Irish,  Trioit.  The  same  day, 
hearing  a  presbyter  celebrating  the  Holy  Mysteries 
of  the  Eucharist — one  whom  the  Brethren  who 
lived  there  had  chosen  to  perform  the  Solemnities 
of  the  Mass  because  they  deemed  him  to  be  very 
religious,  he  suddenly  utters  from  his  mouth  this 
fearful  speech  :  "  Clean  things  and  unclean  are 
now  found  mingled  together ;  that  is,  the  clean 
mysteries  of  the  Holy  Sacrifice  are  offered  by 
an  unclean  man,  who,  meantime,  is  hiding  in  his 
conscience  a  certain  great  crime."  Those  who 
were  present  hearing  this,  stood  amazed,  greatly 
terrified.  But  he  of  whom  these  words  were 
said  was   compelled   to   confess  his   fault   in   the 


72  LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

presence  of  all.  And  the  fellow  soldiers  of  Christ, 
who  stood  around  in  the  church  and  heard  the 
Saint  making  manifest  the  secrets  of  the  heart, 
with  great  wonder  glorified  the  Divine  knowledge 
that  was  in  him. 

NOTES 

Trioit 

Trevet,  in  the  County  Meath,  near  the  church  of 
Skreen,  which  was  formerly  called  Serin  Coluimkille. 

The  Holy  Mysteries  of  the  Eucharist  .  .  .  the  Solemnities 
of  the  Mass  .  .  .  the  clean  mysteries  of  the  Holy 
Sacrifice 

Sacra  Eucharistiag  Mysteria  .  .  .  missarum  sollemnia 
.  .  .  munda  sacrae  oblationis  mysteria :  It  would  hardly 
be  possible  to  express  the  Mass  more  plainly  as  the  un- 
bloody sacrifice  of  the  New  Law  from  the  earliest  times 
in  the  Church  of  Rome  than  is  here  done  by  St.  Adamnan 
and  St.  Columba.  Compare  the  prophecy  of  Malachi, 
chapter  i. :  "  Ab  ortu  enim  solis  usque  ad  occasum  magnum 
est  nomen  meum  in  gentibus,  et  in  omni  loco  sacrificatur 
et  offertur  nomini  meo  oblatio  munda" 


XLI 

PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
ERC  MOCUDRUIDI,  A  ROBBER,  WHO  DWELT 
IN   THE   ISLAND   COLOSO   [COLONSAY]. 

At  another  time  the  Saint,  dwelling  in  the  isle 
of  Iona,  called  two  of  the  Brethren  to  him,  whose 
names  were  Lugbe  and  Silnan,  and  giving  them 
instructions,  he  said :  "  Pass  over,  now,  to  the 
Malean  Isle  [Mull],  and  in  the  fields  near  the  sea 
seek  out  the  robber  Ere,  who,  last  night,  came 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  73 

alone  secretly  from  the  island  Coloso  [Colonsay], 
and  tries  through  the  day  to  hide  himself  under  his 
boat,  covering  it  with  hay  among  the  sandhills,  so 
that  by  night  he  may  sail  over  to  the  little  island 
where  the  sea  calves,  ours  by  right,  are  bred  and 
breed  ;  that,  greedy  and  very  thievish  as  he  is,  he 
may  fill  his  boat  with  them  after  savagely  killing 
them,  and  go  back  to  his  dwelling."  And  they 
hearing  these  words,  obediently  go  forth  and  find 
the  robber  hidden  in  the  places  indicated  by  the 
Saint,  and  as  he  had  directed  them  they  brought 
him  to  the  Saint.  And  on  seeing  him  the  Saint 
says  to  him :  "Why  dost  thou  transgress  the  Divine 
command  and  often  steal  the  goods  of  others  ? 
When  thou  art  in  want,  come  to  us,  and  thou 
shalt  receive  the  necessaries  thou  dost  ask  for." 
And  saying  these  words,  he  ordered  sheep  to  be 
killed  and  to  be  given  to  the  wretched  thief  in 
place  of  the  seals,  lest  he  should  return  empty  to 
his  dwelling.  And  after  some  time  the  Saint,  fore- 
seeing in  spirit  that  the  death  of  the  robber  was  at 
hand,  sends  to  Baithene,  at  that  time  dwelling 
as  prelate  in  the  Plain  of  Lunge,  to  send  to  that 
same  thief  a  fat  sheep  and  six  pecks  of  corn  as  a 
last  gift.  When  these  were  sent  over  by  Baithene, 
as  the  Saint  had  directed,  on  that  day  the  wretched 
robber  was  found  to  have  been  overtaken  by  sudden 
death,  and  the  presents  sent  over  were  used  at  his 
funeral. 

NOTES 
Mocudruidi 
Mac  Ua  Druidi :  the  tribe  name  of  a  family. 


74  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

The  Malean  Isle 
Mull,  opposite  Iona. 

The  island  Coloso 
The  larger  island  of  Colonsay. 

The  little  island  where  our  sea  calves  breed 
Probably  Erraid  isle,  south-east  of  Iona,  and  close  to 
Mull.  Sea  calves — seals — "marini  vituli  ",  are  often 
seen  on  the  islands,  and  were  extensively  used  for  food 
in  the  Hebrides  down  to  the  last  century.  Selsey,  in 
Sussex,  was  anciently  called  "  Selseseu  quod  dicitur 
Latine  Insula  Vituli  marini." 

The  Plain  of  Lunge 
In  the  island  of  Tiree. 

The  presents  {xenia)  were  used  at  his  burial 
i.e.  at  the  funeral  feast  of  Ere. 


XLII 

PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
CRONAN,  A  BARD. 

Another  time,  when  the  Saint  was  sitting  one 
day  with  the  Brothers  near  Lough  Key,  at  the 
mouth  of  the  river  called  in  Latin  Bos  [Boyle],  a 
certain  Irish  bard  came  to  them,  and  when  after 
some  conversation  he  had  gone  away  the  Brothers 
say  to  the  Saint :  "  When  Cronan  the  bard  was 
going  away  from  us,  why  didst  thou  not  ask  him 
for  some  song  to  be  tunefully  sung  after  the 
manner  of  his  art  ? "  And  the  Saint  says  to  them  : 
"  Wherefore  do  ye  also  now  utter  useless  words  ? 
How   could   I   ask  for  a  song   of  joy   from   that 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  75 

unfortunate  fellow,  who  even  now,  killed  by  his 
enemies,  has  come  so  soon  to  the  end  of  life  ? " 
No  sooner  had  the  Saint  said  these  words,  than 
behold  from  over  the  river  a  certain  man  shouts, 
saying  :  "  That  bard,  who  just  returned  safely  from 
you,  has  in  this  very  hour  been  slain  by  his  enemies 
in  the  way."  Then  all  who  were  present,  greatly 
wondering,  looked  upon  one  another  in  amazement. 

NOTES 
Loch  Key 
In  the  County  Roscommon. 

The  river  called  Bos 
The  Boyle,  running  from  Lough  Key  to  the  Shannon. 

A  certain  Irish  bard 

The  poets  or  bards  were  regarded  by  Irish  historians 
as  the  representatives  under  Christianity  of  the  old 
Pagan  Magi  or  Druids.  They  were  highly  unpopular 
in  Columba's  time  because  of  their  exorbitant  demands 
and  their  numbers.  But  for  Columba  the  bards  would 
have  been  suppressed  at  the  Convention  of  Drumceatt 
in  a.d.  575. 

Some  song  to  be  tunefully  sung,  after  the  manner  of 
his  art 

"Aliquod  ex  more  suae  artis  canticum  modulabiliter 
decantari":  meaning,  perhaps,  a  song  accompanied  on 
the  harp. 


76  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XLIII 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  AS  TO  TWO 
CHIEFTAINS,  WHO  DIED  OF  WOUNDS  MUTU- 
ALLY  INFLICTED. 

Again,  at  another  time,  the  Saint,  while  living 
in  the  isle  of  Iona,  on  a  sudden,  in  the  course  of 
his  reading,  in  great  amazement  sighed  with  a 
sorrowful  sigh.  Seeing  which,  Lugbe  Mocublai, 
who  was  there  present,  began  to  ask  of  him  the 
cause  of  his  sudden  grief.  To  whom  the  Saint, 
greatly  sorrowing,  gave  this  answer  :  "  Two  men 
of  royal  race  in  Ireland  have  just  perished,  pierced 
by  wounds  mutually  inflicted,  not  far  from  the 
monastery  which  is  called  Cellrois,  in  the  province 
of  the  Maugdorni ;  and  on  the  eighth  day,  that  is 
this  day  week,  another  man  coming  from  Ireland 
will  shout  across  the  Sound,  and  will  tell  that  these 
deeds  have  actually  happened.  But,  O  my  little 
son,  tell  this  to  no  man  so  long  as  I  shall  live." 
On  the  eighth  day,  accordingly,  there  was  shouting 
over  the  Sound.  Then  the  Saint,  calling  to  him 
Lugbe,  above  mentioned,  quietly  says  to  him  :  "  He 
who  is  now  shouting  over  the  Sound  is  he  of  whom 
I  spoke  to  thee  before  ;  an  aged  traveller  he  is  ; 
go  and  bring  him  to  us."  And  he,  being  quickly 
brought,  related  among  other  things  this  also, 
saying  :  Two  men  of  noble  birth,  in  the  district  of 
the  Maugdorni,  inflicting  wounds  on  one  another, 
have  died ;  namely  Colman,  the  Hound,  son  of 
Ailen,  and  Ronan,  son  of  Aedh,  son  of  Colga,  of 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  77 

the  race  of  the  Anteriores,  near  the  bounds  of  those 
places  where  is  to  be  seen  that  monastery  which  is 
called  Cellrois." 

After  these  words  were  spoken,  the  same  Lugbe, 
soldier  of  Christ,  began  to  question  the  Saint 
apart,  saying  :  "  Tell  me,  I  beseech  thee,  about 
these  so  wonderful  prophetic  revelations,  how  they 
are  manifested  to  thee,  if  by  sight  or  by  hear- 
ing, or  in  some  other  manner  unknown  to  men." 
To  these  words  the  Saint  replies  :  "  Concerning 
this  very  subtle  matter  of  which  thou  now  askest, 
I  shall  not  be  able  to  give  thee  any,  even  the  very 
least  intimation,  unless,  first,  on  bended  knees, 
thou  wilt  strictly  promise  me,  in  the  name  of  the 
Most  High  God,  that  thou  wilt  communicate  this 
most  secret  mystery  to  no  man  whatever  all  the 
days  of  my  life."  And  he,  then,  hearing  these 
words,  immediately  knelt  down,  and  with  face  flat 
on  the  ground  fully  promised  everything,  according 
to  the  Saint's  command.  And  this  promise  being 
promptly  given,  the  Saint  says  to  him  as  he  rises  : 
"  Some  there  are,  though  very  few,  to  whom  Divine 
grace  has  granted  this  :  that  they  can  clearly  and 
most  distinctly  see,  at  one  and  the  same  moment, 
as  though  under  one  ray  of  the  sun,  even  the  entire 
circuit  of  the  whole  world  with  its  surroundings  of 
ocean  and  sky,  the  inmost  part  of  their  mind  being 
marvellously  enlarged." 

Although  the  Saint  seems  to  relate  this  miracle 
as  if  it  referred  to  others  of  the  Elect,  avoiding 
vain  glory  in  every  way,  yet  that,  albeit  indirectly, 
he  was  speaking  of  himself,  no  one  ought  to  doubt 


78  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

who  reads  Paul  the  Apostle,  that  chosen  vessel, 
when  he  speaks  of  such  visions  revealed  to  himself. 
For  he  did  not  write  thus  :  "  I  know  myself",  but : 
"  I  know  a  man  caught  up  to  the  third  heaven." 
Which,  although  he  seems  to  say  it  of  another,  yet 
no  one  doubts  that,  watchful  over  his  humility,  he 
thus  speaks  of  his  own  person.  And  him  also  our 
own  Columba  followed  in  the  above-mentioned 
account  of  spiritual  visions,  which  the  aforesaid  man, 
whom  the  Saint  much  loved,  could  scarcely  draw 
from  him  after  urgent  entreaties  ;  as  he  himself, 
after  the  passing  of  St.  Columba,  bore  witness  in 
the  presence  of  other  holy  men,  from  whom, 
nothing  doubting,  we  have  faithfully  learned  these 
things  above  related  concerning  the  Saint. 

NOTES 
Two  Chieftains 

"  Tigernis,"  a  Latin  adaptation  of  the  Irish  word 
tigherna,  a  chieftain,  a  lord,  from  tig  house,  as  dominus 
from  domus. 

Lugbe  Mocublai 

Lugbe  of  the  tribe  Mac-Ua-Blae. 

The  Monastery  called  Cellrois  in  the  province  of  the 

Maugdomi 

Cellrois,  now  Magheross,  in  Monaghan.  The  Monastery 
is  mentioned  in  the  Annals  of  Ulster  under  the  tribe 
name  of  Fer  Rois.  Mughdorn  dubh  gave  his  name  to  a 
territory  in  Monaghan,  and  from  him  the  Maugdomi 
descended. 

Colman,  the  Hound 
Colman  Canis.     He  is  not  mentioned  by  the  Annalists. 
The  term  Cu,  canis,  often  occurs  in  Irish  names. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  79 

Ronan,  son  o/Aedh,  son  of  Colga 

Ronan  is  not  mentioned  in  the  Annals,  but  the  death 
of  his  father,  Aedh,  is  recorded  as  having  taken  place 
in  a.d.  609.  ^ 

Of  the  race  of  the  Anteriores 

The  Anteriores  were  the  Airtheara,  a  tribe  settled  in 
Airghialla,  in  Ulster,  afterwards  East  Oriel,  or  Uriel. 
Anteriores  is  used  by  Adamnan  as  equivalent  of  Orien- 
tals, and  it  is  so  used  also  in  the  Book  of  Armagh.  "In 
this  use  of  the  word,"  says  Reeves,  "the  writers  had 
reference  to  the  primary  notion  entertained  by  the  Irish 
of  the  cardinal  points,  which  supposed  the  face  turned 
to  the  east,  constituting  this  point  the  anterior."  Hence 
the  west  was  back ;  and  the  south  and  north  right  and 
left  respectively. 

This  most  secret  mystery 

"  Obscurissimum  Sacramentum."  In  chapter  1.  of 
this  book,  and  in  the  third  book,  chapter  vi.,  the  word 
"sacramentum"  signifies  a  solemn  secret  or  deposit. 
And  Hugo  de  S.  Victor  says:  "Aliquando  dicetur 
Sacramentum  quasi  sacrum  secretum  velut  Sacramentum 
Incarnationis,  et  huiusmodi."  In  Bishop  MacCarthy's 
edition,  I  find  the  following  note  on  this  passage:  "If 
holy  men  here  on  earth  can  see  all  things  that  pass  in 
this  world  concentrated,  as  it  were,  '  in  one  ray  of 
light ',  how  much  more  in  the  New  Jerusalem  '  that  hath 
no  need  of  the  sun  or  of  the  moon  to  shine  on  it,  for  the 
glory  of  God  hath  enlightened  it,  and  the  Lamb  is  the 
lamp  thereof  ?  It  is  strange  how  those  who  admit  the 
truth  of  prophecy,  and  that  God  communicated  to  men 
a  knowledge  of  the  most  hidden  future  events,  can  deny 
Him  the  power  of  making  known  to  His  angels  and 
saints  our  secret  thoughts  and  actions." 

/  know  a  man  caught  tip  to  the  third  heaven 

"  It  is  not  expedient  for  me,  doubtless,  to  glory.  I 
will  come  to  the  visions  and  revelations  of  the  Lord.  I 
knew  a  man  in  Christ  above  fourteen  years  ago — whether 


8o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

in  the  body  I  cannot  tell,  or  whether  out  of  the  body  I 
cannot  tell ;  God  knoweth — such  an  one  caught  up  to 
the  third  heaven"  (2  Cor.  xii.  1-2.)  And  the  note  on 
the  passage  in  the  "Speaker's  Commentary"  says: 
"  He  shrunk  from  saying  /was  rapt,  which  would  have 
seemed  like  a  boast.  His  personal  will  was  for  the  time 
so  annihilated  that  he  speaks  of  himself  as  though  he 
were  another  and  not  himself." 


XLIV 

CONCERNING  CRONAN,   A   BISHOP. 

At  another  time  a  certain  stranger  from  the 
province  of  the  Munimenses  [Munster  Men]  came 
to  the  Saint,  and  in  humility  he  disguised  himself 
as  much  as  he  could,  so  that  no  one  might  know 
that  he  was  a  Bishop  ;  but  yet  this  could  not  be 
hidden  from  the  Saint.  For  the  next  Lord's  Day, 
being  bidden  by  the  Saint  to  consecrate  Christ's 
Body  according  to  custom,  he  calls  the  Saint  so 
that,  as  two  priests,  they  may  break  the  Lord's 
Bread  together.  The  Saint  thereupon,  going  up 
to  the  Altar,  suddenly  looking  on  his  face  thus 
addresses  him  :  "  Christ  bless  thee,  Brother,  break 
this  bread  alone  with  the  episcopal  rite,  now  we 
know  that  thou  art  a  Bishop.  Why  hast  thou 
hitherto  tried  so  far  to  disguise  thyself  that  the 
veneration  due  to  thee  by  us  might  not  be 
rendered?"  And  when  the  humble  guest  had 
heard  this  word  of  the  Saint  he  was  greatly 
astonished,  and  revered  Christ  in  the  Saint ;  and 
those  who  were  there  present,  greatly  marvelling, 
glorified  the  Lord. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  81 

NOTES 
Cronan,  a  Bishop 
Colgan,  in  his  "Acta  Sanctorum"  (p.  302). 

Munimenses 
The  men  of  Munster. 

Bidden  by  the  Saint 

According  to  the  direction  of  the  Councils  of  Carthage 
and  of  Aries  :  "ut  peregririo  episcopo  locus  sacrificandi 
detur." 

They  may  break  the  Lord's  bread 

Either  a  special  reference  to  the  Eucharistic  fraction, 
or  a  synonym  for  celebrating. 

The  veneration  due  by  us 

The  superiority  of  Bishops  is  everywhere  recognised 
by  Columba.  Innes  says  that  "a  greater  respect  was 
paid  to  bishops  in  the  monastery  of  Iona,  and  a  greater 
distinction  made  between  them  and  priests  in  the  cele- 
bration of  the  sacred  mysteries,  than  in  other  churches  of 
the  Occident,  either  in  those  ages  or  ours.  For  by  this 
relation  it  appears  that  in  Ycolmkill  (Iona)  a  priest, 
even  the  abbot  St.  Columba  himself,  looked  upon  a 
bishop  as  so  far  superior  to  him  that  he  would  not 
presume,  even  though  invited,  to  celebrate  the  Holy 
Mysteries  jointly  with  him."  The  Irish  Church,  says 
Reeves,  seems  to  have  coincided  with  the  Spanish  in  its 
estimate  of  episcopal  dignity,  and,  he  adds,  "the  present 
narrative  comes  with  greater  weight,  being  written  by 
one  who  was  not  only  a  priest  himself,  but  was  officially 
disqualified  for  the  higher  order." 


82  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

XLV 

PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
ERNAN,  A  PRIEST. 

Again,  at  another  time,  the  venerable  man  sent 
over  Ernan,  a  priest,  an  old  man,  his  uncle,  to 
the  presidency  of  that  monastery  which  he  had 
founded  in  Hinba  island  many  years  before.  And 
so  when  the  Saint  kissed  and  blessed  him  on 
his  departure,  he  uttered  this  prophecy  concern- 
ing him,  saying  :  "  I  do  not  expect  to  see  again 
alive  in  this  world  this  my  friend  now  departing." 
Accordingly  the  same  Ernan,  not  many  days  after- 
wards afflicted  by  some  ailment,  was  at  his  own 
desire  carried  back  to  the  Saint,  who,  greatly 
rejoicing  at  his  coming,  started  to  meet  him  at 
the  haven.  Ernan  himself,  although  with  falter- 
ing footsteps,  was  attempting  with  joyous  activity 
to  walk  from  the  landing  place  to  meet  the 
Saint.  But  when  there  was  between  the  two  a 
space  of  about  twenty-four  paces,  he  was  overtaken 
by  sudden  death  before  the  Saint  could  look  upon 
his  face  in  life,  and  fell  to  earth  breathing  his  last ; 
lest  the  word  of  the  Saint  should  in  any  way  be 
made  void.  Wherefore  in  the  same  place,  before 
the  door  of  the  kiln,  a  cross  has  been  fixed  ;  and 
another  cross  stands  to-day  fixed  in  like  manner 
Avhere  the  Saint  stood  when  he  (Ernan)  died. 

NOTES 
Ernan ,  a  priest 
He  was  the  brother  of  yEthna,  St.  Columba's  mother. 
He  is  patron  of  Rath  Noe,   and  the  Irish   Calendars 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  83 

give  August  1 8th  as  his  feast-day.     Ernan  was  one  of 
the  twelve  followers  of  his  saintly  nephew. 

Hinba  island 
Perhaps  Eilean-na-Naoimh. 

The  door  of  the  kiln 
"  Januam  canabse." 

A  cross  has  been  fixed 
"Crux  infixa  est."  It  was  the  custom  to  mark  with 
a  cross  the  spot  where  any  providential  visitation  took 
place.  The  cross  called  Macieane's  may  mark  the  site. 
These  commemorative  crosses  were  fixed  in  a  base, 
sometimes  a  millstone. 


XLVI 

A    PROPHECY    OF    THE    HOLY    MAN    CONCERNING 
A   CERTAIN   PEASANT'S   LITTLE   FAMILY 

At  another  time  also  a  certain  peasant  came 
among  others  to  the  Saint,  then  staying  in  the 
district  which  is  called  in  Irish  Coire  Salchain  ; 
and  when  the  Saint  saw  him  coming  to  him  in  the 
evening  he  says,  "  Where  dost  thou  dwell?"  "I 
dwell,"  says  he,  "in  the  district  which  borders  upon 
the  shores  of  the  lake  Cfogreth."  "  Barbarous 
marauders  are  now  harrying  that  little  province 
of  which  thou  speakest,"  says  the  Saint.  On 
hearing  which  the  unhappy  peasant  began  to  weep 
for  his  wife  and  children.  And  the  Saint,  seeing 
him  greatly  sorrowing,  consoling  him  says  :  "  Go, 
my  good  man,  go  ;  all  thy  little  family  has  fled 
to   the   mountain   and   escaped  ;   but   indeed   the 


84  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

invaders  have  driven  off  with  them  all  thy  little 
herd,  and  likewise  cruel  robbers  have  carried  off 
all  thy  household  goods  among  their  booty."  Hear- 
ing this,  the  peasant  returned  to  his  country,  and 
found  all  things  had  happened  just  as  predicted 
by  the  Saint. 

NOTES 
Coire  Salchain 
Probably  in  Scotland,  the  word  Coire  meaning  a  cul- 
de-sac  in  the  mountains,  being  common  in  the  Scotch 
Highlands  and  hardly  known  in  Ireland.  There  are 
several  Salchains,  or  Sallachans,  and  it  is  difficult  to 
identify  the  particular  locality  mentioned  in  the  narra- 
tive. Sallachan,  in  Morvern,  called  anciently  Sallachan 
Corry,  may  have  the  best  claim. 

The  Lake  Crogreth 
Nor  has  this  lake  been  identified.     It  may  be  Loch 
Creeran,  in  Upper  Lome. 

My  good  man 

The  original  is  "homuncule",  one  of  the  diminutives 

which   Columba's  kindly   and  paternal  nature  and  his 

feelings  as  a  priest  prompted  him  continually  to  use,  and 

which  frequently  occur  throughout  Adamnan's  narrative. 


XLVII 

A  PROPHECY  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN  CONCERNING 
A  CERTAIN  PEASANT,  GUIRE  BY  NAME,  SON 
OF   AEDHAN. 

At  another  time,  again,  a  certain  peasant,  the 
bravest  of  all  the  men  of  that  time  among  the 
people  of  Korkureti,  makes  inquiry  of  the  Holy 
man  by  what  death  he  is  to  be  overtaken.     To 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  85 

whom  the  Saint  says  :  "  Not  in  battle,  nor  on  the 
sea  wilt  thou  die ;  the  companion  of  thy  journey- 
ings,  of  whom  thou  hast  no  suspicion,  will  be  the 
cause  of  thy  death."  "  Perchance ",  says  Guire, 
"  some  of  my  companion-friends  may  design  to 
slay  me  ;  or  my  wife,  for  love  of  some  younger 
man,  may  do  me  to  death  by  foul  play."  "  Not 
thus  will  it  happen",  says  the  Saint.  "Wherefore", 
says  Guire,  "  art  thou  unwilling  to  inform  me  now 
as  to  my  slayer?"  The  Saint  says:  "I  am  un- 
willing to  tell  thee  anything  more  plainly  now 
concerning  that  thy  baneful  companion,  for  this 
reason  :  lest  the  frequent  remembrance  of  it  should 
sadden  thee  too  much  until  the  day  comes  in  which 
thou  shalt  prove  the  truth  of  the  thing." 

Why  delay  we  with  words  ?  After  the  passing 
of  a  few  years,  the  same  Guire  above  mentioned, 
sitting  one  day  by  chance  beneath  a  boat,  was 
smoothing  down  the  point  of  his  spear  shaft  with 
his  own  knife ;  when,  hearing  others  fighting  among 
themselves  near  by,  he  quickly  gets  up  to  part 
them  from  their  fighting,  and  unwarily  letting  fall 
the  same  knife  on  the  ground,  in  that  sudden 
emergency  he  stumbled  and  his  knee  was  severely 
gashed.  And  this  kind  of  companion  [namely,  his 
knife]  so  acting,  the  cause  of  his  death  became 
manifest;  whereupon  he  himself  was  greatly  struck 
in  his  mind,  and  at  once  recognised  the  fact,  ac- 
cording to  the  holy  man's  prophecy.  And  after 
some  months  he  dies  from  the  effect  of  that 
wound. 


86  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

NOTES 

The  people  of  Korkureti 

Corkaree,  in  Westmeath,  north  of  Mullingar,  is  be- 
lieved to  be  the  district  here  referred  to. 

Smoothing  down  the  point  of  his  spear  shaft 

"Cristiliam  de  hastili  eradebat."  Mr.  Fowler  says,  in 
his  Glossary,  s.v.  Cristiiia,  that  it  is  the  sole  recorded 
instance  of  the  word. 


XLVIII 

THE  HOLY  MAN'S  AGREEABLE  FOREKNOWLEDGE 
AND  PROPHECY  CONCERNING  ANOTHER 
MATTER  ALSO,  WHICH,  ALTHOUGH  OF  MINOR 
IMPORTANCE,  IS  NOT,  I  THINK,  ONE  ON 
WHICH   THERE   SHOULD   BE   SILENCE. 

For  at  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was  living 
in  the  isle  of  Iona,  calling  one  of  the  Brethren 
to  him,  he  thus  addresses  him  :  "  On  the  third  day 
from  this  now  dawning,  thou  must  keep  a  look  out 
in  the  western  part  of  this  isle,  sitting  on  the  sea- 
shore :  for  from  the  northern  region  of  Ireland  a 
certain  guest,  a  crane,  driven  by  the  winds  through 
long,  circling  aerial  flights,  will  arrive  very  weary 
and  fatigued  after  the  ninth  hour  of  the  day  ;  and 
its  strength  almost  exhausted,  it  will  fall  and  lie 
before  thee  on  the  shore,  and  thou  wilt  take  care 
to  lift  it  up  kindly  and  carry  it  to  a  neighbouring 
house,  and  there  wilt  hospitably  harbour  it  and 
attend  to  it  for  three  days  and  three  nights,  and 
carefully  feed  it  ;  at  the  end  of  the  three  days, 
refreshed,  and  unwilling   to   sojourn  longer  with 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  87 

us,  it  will  return  with  fully  regained  strength  to 
the  sweet  region  of  Ireland  whence  it  originally 
came.  And  I  thus  earnestly  commend  it  to  thee 
for  that  it  came  from  the  place  of  our  own  father- 
land." 

The  Brother  obeys,  and  on  the  third  day  after 
the  ninth  hour,  as  commanded,  he  awaits  the 
coming  of  the  expected  guest  ;  and,  when  it  comes, 
he  raises  it  from  the  shore  where  it  fell ;  carries 
it,  weak  as  it  was,  to  the  hospice  ;  feeds  it  in  its 
hunger.  And  to  him,  on  his  return  to  the  monas- 
tery in  the  evening,  the  Saint,  not  by  way  of 
inquiry,  but  of  statement,  says  :  "  God  bless  thee, 
my  son,  because  thou  hast  well  attended  our 
stranger  guest ;  and  it  will  not  tarry  long  in  exile, 
but  after  three  days  will  return  to  its  country." 
And,  just  as  the  Saint  predicted,  the  event  also 
proved.  For  having  been  harboured  for  three 
days,  raising  itself  on  high  by  flight  from  the 
ground  in  presence  of  its  ministering  host,  and 
considering  for  a  little  while  its  course  in  the  air, 
it  returned  across  the  ocean  to  Ireland  in  a  straight 
line  of  flight,  on  a  calm  day. 

NOTES 

A  certain  guest,  a  crane 
Adamnan  was  surely  right  not  to  omit  this  charming 
incident,  "though  of  minor  importance",  from  his  nar- 
rative. The  Lives  of  the  Irish  Saints  abound  with 
references  to  their  sympathy  with  and  affection  for  birds. 
There  are  stories  about  the  cranes  in  the  Lives  of  SS. 
Finian  and  Ailbhe,  and  the  narrative  of  the  voyage  of 
St.  Brendan  is  full  of  marvels  concerning  birds.  Stories 
of  favourite  animals  and  the  love  of  animals  occur  in 


88  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

the  lives  of  the  saints  of  every  country.  The  lion  of 
St.  Jerome  and  the  preaching  of  St.  Francis  to  the  birds 
at  once  occur  to  one's  mind. 

XLIX 

THE  FOREKNOWLEDGE  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN 
CONCERNING  THE  BATTLE  WHICH  WAS 
FOUGHT  MANY  YEARS  AFTER  IN  THE  FORT- 
RESS OF  CETHIRN  ;  AND  CONCERNING  A 
CERTAIN   WELL   NEAR   TO   THAT   PLACE. 

At  another  time,  after  the  Convention  of  the 
Kings  at  the  Ridge  of  Ceate,  namely  Aedh,  son  of 
Ainmire,  and  Aidan,  son  of  Galran,  the  blessed 
man  was  returning  to  the  ocean  plains,  he  and  the 
abbot  Comgell  sit  down,  not  far  from  the  above- 
mentioned  fortress,  on  a  certain  calm  fine  day  in 
the  summer  time.  Then  water  for  the  washing 
of  their  hands  was  brought  to  the  Saints  in  a 
brazen  vessel  from  a  certain  little  fountain  near  by. 
And  when  St.  Columba  had  received  it,  he  thus 
speaks  to  the  abbot  Comgell,  who  sat  at  his  side  : 
"  The  day  will  come,  O  Comgell,  when  that  little 
spring,  from  which  the  water  now  poured  out  has 
been  brought  to  us,  will  not  be  fit  for  any  human 
uses."  "  By  what  cause  ",  says  Comgell,  "  will  the 
water  of  this  spring  be  corrupted?"  Then  St. 
Columba  says  :  "  Because  it  will  be  filled  with 
human  gore  ;  for  my  kith  and  kin  and  thy  rela- 
tions according  to  the  flesh,  that  is  the  Hy-Neill 
and  the  people  of  the  Cruithni,  will  wage  war 
fighting  in  this  neighbouring  fortress  of  Cethirn. 
Whence  it  will  come  about  that  in  the  aforesaid 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  89 

spring  some  poor  fellow  of  my  kindred  will  be 
slain  with  the  rest,  and  with  his  blood  the  basin  of 
the  same  spring  will  be  filled." 

And  after  many  years  this  true  prophecy  of  his 
was  fulfilled  in  due  time.  And  in  that  battle,  as 
many  people  know,  Domhnall,  son  of  Aedh,  came 
off  victorious,  and  in  the  same  spring,  according  to 
the  holy  man's  prophecy,  a  certain  man  of  his 
race  was  slain. 

Another  soldier  of  Christ,  Finan  by  name,  who 
for  many  years  blamelessly  led  the  life  of  an 
anchorite,  near  the  monastery  of  Oakwood  Plain, 
relating  some  things  about  the  same  battle,  fought 
in  his  presence,  declared  to  me,  Adamnan,  that  he 
saw  a  dead  body  in  the  aforesaid  spring,  and  that 
on  the  same  day,  on  his  return  after  the  battle  to 
the  monastery  of  St.  Comgell,  which  is  called  in 
Irish  Cambas  (whence  he  had  set  out),  he  there 
found  two  aged  monks  of  St.  Comgell,  to  whom, 
when  he  had  narrated  certain  things  concerning 
the  battle  fought  in  his  presence  and  concerning 
the  spring  corrupted  with  human  gore,  they  at  once 
say  :  "A  true  prophet  is  Columba,  who,  as  he  sat 
near  the  fortress  of  Cethirn,  announced  many 
years  beforehand  in  our  hearing,  in  the  presence 
o  St.  Comgell,  that  all  these  things,  now  fulfilled, 
which  thou  tellest  of  the  battle  and  of  the  spring, 
would  come  to  pass. 

NOTES 

The  fortress  of  Cethirn 

Dun  Keithirn,  named  after  Kethern,  son  of  Fintan,  of 
Ulster.     It  is  now  known  as  the  "Giant's  Sconce",  and 


9o  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

is  near  Coleraine.  Reeves  says  :  ' '  The  hill  commonly 
called  '  The  Sconce '  is  the  most  conspicuous  one  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  Coleraine,  situate  about  four  miles 
west  of  that  town  in  the  Parish  of  Dunhoe,  on  the  old 
Newton  Road.  It  is  797  feet  above  the  level  of  the  sea, 
and  the  top,  which  is  a  table  measuring  160  feet  by 
94  feet,  exhibits  the  remains  of  an  ancient  fortress.  On 
the  west  and  south  the  face  of  the  hill  is  very  precipitous ; 
on  the  north  and  east  it  is  less  so,  and  at  a  lower  level 
has  a  small  semicircular  platform  formed  by  an  expansion 
of  the  hill.  On  the  north-east  is  a  well,  and  on  the  south- 
east is  the  entrance  to  the  fort,  5  feet  wide,  ascending 
abruptly  by  rude  steps.  On  the  north-east  was  a  long 
gallery,  formed  against  the  side  of  the  apex  by  large 
stones  regularly  laid  with  an  inclination  inwards  and 
covered  with  cross-flags,  40  feet  long  by  2  broad,  serving 
as  a  covered  way  and  also  as  a  breastwork  on  the 
accessible  side.  The  whole  crest  of  the  hill  was 
enclosed  by  a  Cyclopean  wall,  of  which  some  traces 
remain,  though  the  mass  of  it  has  been  precipitated 
down  the  sides,  and  either  carried  away  for  building 
purposes  elsewhere  or  suffered  to  lie  in  debris  at  the  foot. 
The  remarkable  gallery  mentioned  was  disturbed  and 
reduced  to  its  present  condition,  which  is  little  better 
than  a  great  ridge  of  dry  stones,  by  a  person  who  about 
thirty  years  ago  [i.e.  about  1827]  brought  a  number  of 
men  to  the  spot  '  to  search  the  cove  for  money ',  and  with 
them  a  barrel  of  beer  to  stimulate  their  exertions." 

The  Convention  of  the  Kings  at  the  Ridge  of  Ceatt 

The  Convention  was  held  in  a.d.  575  at  Drum  Ceate, 
a  long  mound  now  known  as  the  Mullagh,  or  "Daisy 
Hill,"  near  Newtownlimavaddy,  in  Co.  Londonderry. 
One  of  the  main  objects  of  the  Convention  was  the 
abolition  of  the  Bards.  It  was  summoned  by  Aedh,  son 
of  Ainmire,  King  of  Ireland  at  the  time  ;  Aidan,  son  of 
Galran,  who  was  present,  was  Lord  of  the  Scotch 
Dalriada  in  574,  and  the  founder  of  the  supremacy  of 
that  race  in  Scotland.  Aedh,  as  sovereign  of  Ireland, 
laid  claim  to  the  tribute  and  service  of  the  Dalriada  of 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  91 

Scotland  as  an  Irish  colony  bound  to  the  mother  country ; 
Aidan,  on  the  other  hand,  aspiring  to  independence. 
Hence  the  Convention.  Skene,  in  his  "Celtic  Scotland" 
ii.  123,  states  that  the  Convention  consisted  of  all  the 
petty  kings  and  heads  of  tribes,  and  of  all  the  principal 
clergy  of  Ireland.  Columba  attended  it  accompanied  by 
King  Aidan,  and  by  retinue  who  are  thus  described  by 
the  poet,  Dalian  Forgaill : — 

Forty  priests  was  their  number. 

Twenty  bishops,  noble,  worthy 

For  singing  psalms,  a  practice  without  blame  ; 

Fifty  deacons,  thirty  students. 

The  assembly  was  held  not  far  from  Columba's 
monastery  of  Derry,  and  no  doubt  this  retinue  would 
consist  of  persons  taken  from  his  Irish  monasteries  as 
well  as  of  those  who  accompanied  him  from  Iona.  I 
have  given  in  the  introduction  some  account  of  Columba's 
participation  in  this  famous  Convention. 

The  blessed  man  was  returning  to  the  ocean  plains 
Derry  was  a  point  of  communication  with  Iona.     In 
coming  to  Drumceatt,  Columba  entered  Lough  Foyle, 
but  in  going  to  Scotland  on  this  occasion  he  embarked 
at  Coleraine. 

Abbot  Comgell 
Founder  and  first  abbot  of  Bangor  in  the  Ards  of 
Ulster  ;  born  517,  died  602. 

The  Hy-Neill  and  the  people  of  Cruithni 
"Nellis  Nepotes  et  Cruthini  populi":  The  Ui-Neill, 
Hy-Neill,  or  O'Neills,  descendants  of  Niall  of  the  Nine 
Hostages,  King  of  Ireland,  358-405.  By  his  second 
wife  he  had  Eoghan,  Conall  Gulban  and  other  sons,  and 
St.  Columba  was  great-grandson  of  Conall  Gulban. 
Domhnall,  son  of  Aedh,  who  also  descended  from  Conall 
Gulban,  and  who  led  the  clans  in  the  battle,  was  therefore 
among  Columba's  "family  friends",  as  he  said.  The 
Cruithni  were  the  Irish  Picts  or  Dal-Araidhe,  who  held 
the  southern  half  of  Antrim  and  most  of  Down.  Abbot 
Comgall  was  ninth   in  descent  from    Fiacha   Araidhe, 


92  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

founder  of  the  race,  and  Congal  Claen,  who  commanded 
the  Dalaradians  in  this  battle,  was  tenth  in  descent  from 
the  same  individual. 

In  that  battle  Domhnall  came  off  victorious 

The  battle  of  Dun  Cethirn  was  fought  in  629.  The 
Annals  of  Ulster  thus  record  it :  "  Bellum  Duin  Ceithirnn, 
in  quo  Congal  Caech  fugit  et  Domhnall  Mac  Aedo 
[Victor]  erat :  in  quo  cuidit  Guaire  mae  Forindain." 

Another  soldier  of  Christ,  Finan  by  name,  etc. 

There  are  many  saints  of  the  name.  Colgan  ("Acta 
Sanctorum  ")  believes  the  Finan  here  mentioned  to  have 
been  St.  Finan  Lobhar,  who  founded  many  monasteries 
in  Munster  and  Leinster,  and  died  in  the  reign  of  King 
Finachta,  674-693.     Oakwood  Plain  is  Durrow. 

Declared  to  me  Adamnan 

Adamnan,  born  in  624,  was  in  his  fifth  year  at  the 
date  of  the  battle. 

The  monastery  called  Cambas 

Founded  by  St.  Comgall ;  called  also  Camas,  or 
Camus,  on  the  Bann  River,  two  miles  above  Coleraine 
and  four  miles  east  of  Dun  Cethirn.  All  traces  of  the 
church,  says  Reeves,  have  disappeared,  but  an  ancient 
sculptured  cross  or  pillar,  divided  by  transverse  bands 
into  four  compartments,  each  containing  three  human 
figures  in  relief,  stood  on  a  base  at  the  west  side  till 
1760,  when  it  was  overturned,  and  having  been  muti- 
lated, was  converted  into  a  gatepost  for  the  churchyard, 
in  which  condition  it  still  exists. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  93 


HOW  BY  DIVINE  GRACE  THE  HOLY  MAN  WAS 
INSPIRED  TO  DISCRIMINATE  BETWEEN  DIF- 
FERENT TRIBUTE  GIFTS 

At  the  same  time  Conall,  Bishop  in  Coleraine, 
collected  gifts  of  homage  almost  numberless  from 
the  people  of  the  Plain  of  Eilne,  and  prepared  a  hos- 
pitable reception  for  the  blessed  man  on  his  return, 
with  a  great  multitude  in  his  train,  from  the  Con- 
vention of  the  above-mentioned  kings.  Then  the 
numerous  gifts  of  the  people  are  laid  out  in  the 
courtyard  of  the  monastery  for  the  holy  man  to  bless 
them  on  his  arrival.  And  when  he  was  looking  at 
them,  blessing  them  the  while,  specially  indicating 
the  gift  of  a  certain  rich  man,  "  The  mercy  of  God," 
he  says,  "attends  the  man  whose  gift  this  is,  for 
his  pity  for  the  poor  and  his  liberality."  And  he 
also  points  out  another  present,  among  many 
others,  saying,  "  Of  this  gift  of  a  sage,  who  is  also 
avaricious,  I  can  in  no  wise  taste,  unless  first  he 
does  true  penance  for  the  sin  of  avarice."  On 
hearing  this  saying,  which  was  quickly  circulated 
among  the  crowd,  Columb,  son  of  Aedh,  con- 
science-struck runs  up,  and  does  penance  before 
the  Saint  on  bended  knees,  and  promises  that  he 
will  henceforth  renounce  avarice,  and  that  he  will 
practise  bounty  and  mend  his  ways.  And,  bidden 
by  the  Saint  to  rise,  he  was  from  that  hour  cured  of 
the  vice  of  niggardliness.  For  he  was  a  sage,  as  had 
been  revealed  to  the  Saint  through  his  gift.     But 


94  LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

that  rich  and  liberal  man,  Brendan  by  name,  of 
whose  gift  mention  has  been  made  a  little  above, 
also  hearing  the  Saint's  words  concerning  himself, 
kneeling  down  at  the  Saint's  feet  prays  that  the 
Saint  will  pour  forth  prayer  for  him  to  the  Lord. 
And  he,  after  being  first  reproved  by  him  for  certain 
of  his  sins,  being  penitent,  promised  to  amend 
thenceforth.  And  so  each  one  was  amended  and 
cured  of  his  sins. 

With  like  insight  the  Saint  also,  at  another  time, 
recognised  the  gift  of  a  certain  grasping  man, 
Diormit  by  name,  among  many  gifts  brought 
together  against  his  arrival  at  the  Great  Cell 
Deathrib. 

Let  it  suffice  to  have  written  in  the  text  of  this 
first  book  these  things  concerning  the  prophetic 
grace  of  the  blessed  man,  being  a  few  out  of 
many.  Few,  I  said,  for  there  is  no  doubt  in  the 
case  of  the  venerable  man  that  many  more  were 
the  secrets  hidden  within  which  could  in  no  wise 
come  to  the  knowledge  of  men,  than  those  which, 
like  some  little  tricklings,  oozed  out  as  it  were 
through  cracks  in  some  vessel  full  of  strongly 
fermenting  new  wine.  For  holy  and  apostolic  men, 
shunning  vain  glory,  are  usually,  and  as  far  as 
they  can  be,  quick  to  conceal  certain  secrets  mani- 
fested to  them  inwardly  by  God.  But  God  divulges 
some  of  these,  whether  they  themselves  will  or 
no,  and  in  some  way  brings  them  out,  willing  to 
honour  the  Saint  who  honours  Him,  that  is  the 
Lord  Himself,  to  whom  be  glory  for  ever  and  ever. 

Here,  then,  a   close  is  put   to   this  first  book. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  95 

Now,  following,  begins  the  Book  of  his  Miracu- 
lous Powers,  with  which,  for  the  most  part,  is  still 
coupled  his  prophetic  foreknowledge. 

NOTES 

Conallus,  Bishop  in  Coleraine 

"  Conallus  episcopus  Culerathin  ".  There  is  no  men- 
tion of  Conall  elsewhere.  The  Irish  name  of  Coleraine 
is  Cuil-rathain,  meaning  "fern-cover". 

The  people  of  the  Plain  of  Eilne 

Magh  Elne,  between  the  Bush  and  the  Bann  rivers, 
the  present  north-eastern  Liberties  of  Coleraine. 

In  the  courtyard  of  the  monastery 

"In  platea  monasterii".  In  Book  III.  chap.  vi.  the 
word  is  "plateola".  Not  a  vestige  remains  of  the 
Abbey  of  Coleraine. 

Columb,  son  of  Aedh 

Described  as  a  "wise  man",  that  is  a  sage  or  philo- 
sopher. His  name  and  Columbus,  Columbanus,  Colman, 
and  Columba  are  various  forms  of  the  same  name. 

The  Great  Cell  Deathrib 

Kilmore,  in  Co.  Roscommon,  on  the  Shannon.  It  was 
founded  by  Columba  before  he  left  Ireland. 


BOOK   II 


H  97 


Aa 


< 
o 

<  > 


THE  BACHUILL  MOR  ('  BIG 
STAFF  ')  OF  SAINT  MOLOC 
(SEE   BOOK   II.    CHAP.    XIV.) 


'i 


THE   SECOND   BOOK, 
CONCERNING  HIS   MIRACULOUS   POWER. 

I 

OF  THE  WINE  THAT  WAS   MADE  FROM  WATER. 

At  another  time,  when  the  venerable  man,  as 
yet  a  youth,  was  staying  in  Ireland  with  St. 
Findbar  [or  Finnian],  the  bishop,  learning  the 
wisdom  of  Holy  Writ,  on  a  certain  day  of  solemnity 
the  wine  for  the  Sacrificial  Mystery,  by  some 
chance,  was  not  found  :  and  when  he  heard  the 
ministers  of  the  altar  complaining  among  them- 
selves of  the  want  of  it,  he,  as  deacon,  takes  the 
cruet  and  goes  to  the  spring  to  draw  water  for  the 
ministrations  of  the  Holy  Eucharist ;  for  in  those 
days  he  was  ministering  in  the  order  of  the 
deaconship.  So  the  blessed  man  in  faith  blessed 
the  watery  element  which  he  drew  from  the 
spring,  invoking  the  while  the  name  of  the  Lord 
Jesus  Christ,  Who  in  Cana  of  Galilee  turned 
water  into  wine  :  and  He,  working  in  this  miracle 
also,  the  lower  species,  that  is  the  watery  one, 
was  by  the  hands  of  the  illustrious  man  changed  into 
the  more  agreeable  species  of  wine.  And  so  the 
holy  man  returns  from  the  spring,  and  entering 
the  church  sets  down  the  said  cruet  containing 
the  wine  near  the  altar,  and  says  to  the  ministers  : 
"  Here  is  wine  for  you,  which  the  Lord  Jesus  has 

99 


ioo         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

sent  for  the  celebration  of  His  Mysteries."  And 
this  becoming  known,  the  holy  bishop  and  the 
ministers  give  great  thanks  to  God.  But  the  holy 
youth  ascribed  this  not  to  himself,  but  to  the  holy 
bishop  Vinnian.  Thus  Christ  the  Lord  showed 
this  first  proof  of  miraculous  power  through  His 
disciple,  just  as  He  wrought  it  by  Himself, 
when  he  made  a  beginning  of  miracles  in  Cana 
of  Galilee. 

May  this  divine  miracle,  which  was  manifested 
through  our  Columba,  shine  like  a  lamp  in  the 
Introduction  of  this  little  book,  so  that  we  may 
then  pass  on  to  the  other  great  miracles  that  were 
manifested  through  him. 

NOTES 

St.  Findbar,  the  bishop 

Probably  St.  Finnian,  of  Moville,  who,  with  another 
abbot  of  the  same  name,  Finnian  of  Clonard,  in  Meath, 
was  one  of  the  teachers  of  St.  Columba.  The  ancient 
Irish  Life  of  Columba  refers  to  this  very  miracle  as 
having  occurred  when  the  Saint  was  studying  under 
Finden,  i.e.  Findbar,  Finnian,  of  Movile. 

Water  for  the  ministrations  of  the  Holy  Eucharist 
"Ad  sacrse  Eucharistiae  ministeria  aquam."  The 
water  was,  of  course,  for  the  mixed  chalice,  used  by 
the  early  Irish  Church  as  by  all  Christendom  for  the 
first  1500  years  after  Christ.  The  duty  here  performed 
by  the  deacon  was  usually  done  by  the  acolyte.  The 
Fourth  Council  of  Carthage  prescribed  that  when 
an  acolyte  is  ordained,  "Accipiat  et  urceolum  vacuum 
ad  suggerendum  vinum  in  Eucharistiam  sanguinis 
Christi."  For  the  mixed  chalice  see  Justin  Martyr, 
Irenaeus,  the  Clementine  Liturgy,  and  other  authorities, 
ancient  and  modern. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         101 

The  more  agreeable  species,  namely  wine 

"  Gratiorem  videlicet  vinalem  speciem."  An  early 
application  of  the  term  "species"  to  one  of  the  Euchar- 
istic  elements. 


II 

CONCERNING  THE  BITTER  FRUIT  OF  A  CERTAIN 
TREE  TURNED  INTO  SWEET  THROUGH  THE 
SAINT'S   BLESSING. 

There  was  a  certain  tree  laden  with  apples  near 
the  monastery  of  Oakwood  Plain,  in  the  southern 
part  of  it ;  and  when  the  inhabitants  of  the  place 
made  some  complaint  of  the  excessive  bitterness 
of  the  fruit,  the  Saint  approached  it  one  day  in  the 
autumn  season,  and  seeing  the  tree  in  vain  bore 
abundant  fruits  which  injured  more  than  delighted 
those  tasting  of  them,  he  raised  his  holy  hand  in 
benediction,  saying:  "  In  the  name  of  the  omnipo- 
tent God,  let  all  thy  bitterness  depart  from  thee, 
O  bitter  tree,  and  be  thy  apples,  hitherto  most  bitter, 
now  changed  into  very  sweet  ones."  Wonderful  to 
say,  quicker  than  speech,  and  in  the  same  moment, 
all  the  apples  of  that  tree  lost  their  bitterness  and 
were  changed  into  a  marvellous  sweetness,  accord- 
ing to  the  word  of  the  Saint. 

NOTE 

St.  Mochoemoc  performed  a  similar  miracle,  as  narrated 
by  Colgan  in  "Acta  Sanctorum",  p.  593b. 


io2         LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 


III 

CONCERNING  A  CROP,  SOWN  AFTER  MIDSUMMER 
AND  REAPED  IN  THE  BEGINNING  OF  THE 
MONTH  OF  AUGUST,  AT  THE  PRAYER  OF 
THE  SAINT,  WHILE  HE  WAS  LIVING  IN  THE 
ISLE  OF   IONA. 

At  another  time  the  Saint  sent  his  monks  to 
bring  faggots  from  the  little  field  of  a  certain 
peasant  for  the  building  of  a  hospice.  And  when 
they  came  back  to  the  Saint  with  their  freight-ship 
filled  with  the  aforesaid  cargo  of  twigs,  and  said 
that  the  peasant  was  very  much  distressed  on 
account  ol  the  loss  of  them,  the  Saint  at  once 
gave  orders  and  says  :  "  Lest,  therefore,  we  should 
be  the  cause  of  harm  to  that  man,  let  there  be 
taken  to  him  from  us  twice  three  bushels  of  barley, 
and  let  him  sow  them  immediately  in  ploughed 
land."  And  the  bushels  being  sent  to  the  peasant, 
Findchan  by  name,  according  to  the  Saint's 
command,  and  set  down  before  him,  with  that 
direction,  he  thankfully  accepted  them,  saying  : 
"  How  can  a  crop  come  to  any  good  sown  after 
midsummer,  contrary  to  the  nature  of  this  land  ? " 
His  wife,  on  the  other  hand,  says  :  "Do  accord- 
ing to  the  Saint's  command,  to  whom  the  Lord 
will  grant  whatever  he  may  ask  of  Him."  But 
the  messengers  also  at  the  same  time  added  this, 
saying  :  "  Saint  Columba,  who  sent  us  to  thee  with 
this  gift,  gave  us  also  this  command  about  thy 
crop,  saying  :  '  Let  that  man  trust  in  the  omnipo- 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         103 

tence  of  God  ;  his  crop,  although  sown  twelve  days 
from  the  beginning  of  the  month  of  June,  shall  be 
reaped  in  the  beginning  of  the  month  of  August.' " 
The  peasant  obeys,  ploughing  and  sowing  ;  and 
the  crop,  which  he  sowed  against  hope  at  the  time 
above  mentioned,  he  gathered  in,  ripe,  in  the 
beginning  of  the  month  of  August,  in  that  part  of 
the  land  which  is  called  Delcros,  to  the  great 
amazement  of  all  his  neighbours,  according  to  the 
word  of  the  Saint. 

NOTES 
Faggots 

"  Virgarum  fasciculos  "  :  for  the  wattle- work  of  which 
the  houses  and  churches  of  the  Celts  were  constructed  in 
early  times. 

Shall  be  reaped  in  the  beginning  of  August 

In  and  around  Iona  barley  is  generally  sown  in  June 
and  reaped  in  September. 

Delcros 

Dealg-ros,  promontory  of  thorns.  It  has  not  been 
identified. 


IV 

CONCERNING    A    PESTIFEROUS    CLOUD    AND    THE 
HEALING   OF   MANY. 

Again  at  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was 
dwelling  in  the  isle  of  Iona,  sitting  on  the  hill 
which  is  called  in  Latin  Munitio  Magna  [Dun- 
bhuirg],  he  sees  in  the  north  a  dense  and  rainy  cloud 
rising  up  from  the  sea  on  a  clear  day  :  and  when 


io4         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

he  saw  it  rising,  the  Saint  says  to  a  certain  one  of 
his  monks  sitting  near  him,  by  name  Silnan,  son 
of  Nemandon  Mocusogin  :  "This  cloud  will  be 
very  harmful  to  men  and  to  cattle  ;  and  rapidly 
flying  to-day  over  a  great  part  of  Ireland,  that  is, 
from  the  river  called  Ailbine  [Delvin]  as  far  as  the 
ford  Clied  [Dublin],  it  will  pour  down  in  the  evening 
a  pestilential  rain  which  will  cause  grievous  and 
festering  ulcers  to  be  formed  on  the  bodies  of  men 
and  on  the  teats  of  cattle  ;  and  by  these  the  sick 
men  and  cattle  will  suffer  from  that  poisonous 
infection,  even  unto  death.  But  we  ought  to  have 
compassion  on  them,  and  to  relieve  their  suffering, 
the  Lord  mercifully  granting  it.  Thou,  therefore, 
Silnan,  come  now  down  from  the  hill  with  me  and 
prepare  to  sail  to-morrow,  life  lasting  and  God 
willing,  and  take  bread  from  me  blessed  with  the 
invocation  of  God's  Name,  and  on  its  being  dipped 
in  water,  and  men  and  cattle  sprinkled  with  it,  they 
will  quickly  regain  their  health." 

Why  linger  we?  On  the  morrow,  the  things 
necessary  being  quickly  got  ready,  Silnanus  took 
the  blessed  bread  from  the  Saint's  hand  and  sailed 
away  in  peace.  And  in  that  same  hour  that  he 
departs  from  him  the  Saint  adds  this  word  of  com- 
fort to  him,  saying  :  "  Be  sure,  my  son,  that  thou 
shalt  have  fair  and  prosperous  winds  day  and 
night  until  thou  comest  to  that  region  which  is 
called  Ard-Ceannachte,  that  there  thou  mayest 
quickly  relieve  the  sufferers  with  the  health-giving 
bread." 

Why  say  more  ?    Silnanus,  obedient  to  the  Saint's 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA         105 

word,  the  Lord  helping  him,  arrived  after  a  pros- 
perous and  rapid  voyage  at  the  above-mentioned 
part  of  that  region,  and  found  the  people  of  whom 
the  Saint  had  foretold  devastated  by  the  pestilential 
rainfall  of  that  swift  cloud  that  preceded  him. 
And  in  the  first  place  six  men  in  one  house  near 
the  sea,  whom  he  found  in  the  last  extremity,  at 
the  point  of  death,  on  being  sprinkled  by  the  same 
Silnan  with  the  water  of  benediction,  were  oppor- 
tunely cured  that  very  day.  And  the  rumour  of 
this  rapid  cure,  spread  at  once  throughout  all  the 
district  devastated  by  that  pestilential  disease,  and 
summoned  all  the  sick  people  to  Saint  Columba's 
legate,  and  he,  according  to  the  Saint's  command, 
sprinkled  men  and  cattle  with  water  in  which 
the  blessed  bread  had  been  dipped,  and  the  men 
forthwith  recovered  full  health,  and  were  saved  with 
their  cattle,  and  praised  Christ  in  St.  Columba  with 
heartfelt  thanksgiving. 

In  this  above-written  narrative,  therefore,  these 
two  things,  as  I  think,  are  manifestly  and  equally 
associated,  namely,  the  gift  of  prophecy  concerning 
the  cloud  and  the  great  miracle  in  the  healing  of 
the  sick.  That  in  all  respects  these  things  are 
most  true,  the  above-mentioned  Silnan,  Christ's 
soldier,  the  messenger  of  St.  Columba,  bore  witness 
in  the  presence  of  Seghine,  the  abbot,  and  of  other 
aged  men. 

NOTES 

The  hill  .   .   .  Munitio  Magna 

Probably  Dun-bhuirg,  "the  hill  of  the  fortification", 
in  the  north-west  of  Iona.     It  commands  a  wide  view 


io6         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

northwards,  and  on  the  summit  are  traces  of  a  parapet 
such  as  often  enclosed  ancient  forts  in  Ireland  and 
Scotland. 

Silnan,  son  of  Nemandon  Mocusogin 
Silnan  has  already  been  mentioned  in  chapter  xli.  of 
Book  I.     Mocusogin  is  a  clan  name,  Mocu  Soghain,  of 
the  sons  of  Soghan,  who  was  son  of  Fiacha  Araidhe, 
founder  of  the  Dal-Araidhe. 

The  river  Ailbine 
The    Delvin,    which    runs    between    the   counties   of 
Dublin  and  Meath. 

The  ford  Cited 
Ath-Cliath,  hurdle-ford,  the  ancient  name  of  Dublin. 
Irish-speaking  natives,    says   Fowler,    still   call    Dublin 
Baile-Atha-Cliath,    "the    town    of    the    ford    of    the 
hurdles  ". 

Ard-  Ceannachte 
The  height  of  the  Cianachta,  the  descendants  of  Cian, 
slain  in  battle  a.d.  240.     In  Meath. 


V 

CONCERNING  MAUGINA,  DAUGHTER  OF  DAIMEN, 
A  HOLY  VIRGIN  WHO  HAD  DWELT  IN  CLO- 
CHER  OF  THE  SONS   OF  DAIMEN. 

At  another  time  the  Saint,  when  he  was  living 
in  the  isle  of  Iona,  calling  to  him,  at  the  first  hour 
of  the  day,  a  certain  Brother,  Lugaid  by  name, 
whose  surname  is,  in  Irish,  Lathir,  thus  addresses 
him,  saying :  "  Prepare  for  a  quick  voyage  to 
Ireland,  for  it  is  very  necessary  for  me  to  send 
thee  as  messenger  to  Clocher  of  the  Sons  of 
Daimen.     For  in  this  past  night,  by  some  chance, 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         107 

Maugina,  a  holy  virgin,  daughter  of  Daimen, 
returning  home  from  the  oratory  after  mass,  has 
stumbled,  and  her  hip-bone  is  broken  in  two.  She, 
in  her  cries,  often  invokes  my  name,  hoping  from 
the  Lord  that  she  will  receive  consolation  through 
me. 

Why  say  more  ?  Lugaid,  obediently  and  forth- 
with departing,  the  Saint  hands  him,  with  a  blessing, 
a  little  pinewood  box,  saying :  "  When  thou  comest 
to  visit  Maugina,  let  the  blessed  contents  of  this 
little  box  be  dipped  into  a  vessel  of  water,  and  the 
same  blessed  water  be  poured  upon  her  hip  ;  and 
immediately  on  the  name  of  God  being  invoked, 
the  hip-bone  will  be  joined  and  knit  together,  and 
the  holy  virgin  will  recover  perfect  health."  And 
the  Saint  adds  this  :  "  Behold,  I  in  thy  presence 
write  on  the  cover  of  this  box  the  number  of 
twenty-three  years,  during  which  the  sacred  virgin 
is  to  live  in  this  present  life,  after  this  same 
recovery  of  health."  All  which  things  were  as 
completely  fulfilled  as  predicted  by  the  Saint ; 
for  as  soon  as  Lugaid  came  to  the  holy  virgin, 
when  her  hip  was  bathed  with  the  blessed  water 
as  the  Saint  had  recommended,  the  bone  was  knit 
together  without  any  delay,  and  she  was  fully 
cured ;  and  rejoicing  at  the  coming  of  Saint 
Columba's  messenger  with  great  thanksgiving, 
she  lived  twenty-three  years  after  her  cure,  accord- 
ing to  the  Saint's  prophecy,  persevering  in  good 
works. 

NOTES 

Lugaid  Lathir  :  Lathir  means  "strong." 


io8         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Clocher  of  the  Sons  of  Daimen 
"Clocherum  filiorum  Daimeni" ;  in  Irish,  Clochair  Mac 
Daimene  ;  Clogher,  where  Saint  Maccarthen  founded  a 
monastery  by  order  of  St.  Patrick.  The  distinction  "of 
the  Sons  of  Daimen  "  was  necessary,  there  being  many 
places  in  Ireland  in  the  names  of  which  Clogher  (=a 
stony  place)  is  a  component. 

Maugina 
Irish,  Moghain.    There  are  three  virgins  of  the  name 
in  the  Calendar  commemorated  Nov.  14,  Dec.  9,  Dec.  15. 
She  whose  day  is  Dec.  15,  Moghain,  Virgin  of  Cluain- 
boirean,  is  probably  the  one  here  mentioned. 

The  blessed  contents  of  this  little  box 
"Benedictio  quae  in  hac  capsellula  continetur."  It 
may  have  been  "blessed  bread."  In  chapter  vii.  of 
this  book  benedictio  is  synonymous  with  Eulogia,  which 
meant  the  bread  presented  to  the  priest  at  the  Offertory 
and  blessed  (not  consecrated)  by  him,  for  distribution  by 
the  deacon  among  those  present  at  the  mass.  It  is  the 
"pain  benit"  still  blessed  in  many  churches  in  France 
and  elsewhere  under  the  old  name  "eulogie."  The 
prayer  for  blessing  this  bread,  as  ordained  by  the  Council 
of  Nantes,  a.d.  658,  is,  "  Ut  sit  omnibus  salus  mentis  et 
corporis  atque  contra  omnes  morbos  tutamentum  " — the 
precise  object  for  which  it  is  used  here  by  St.  Columba. 
Capsella  capsellula,  capsa,  is  the  common  name  for  the 
case  in  which  relics  and  books  were  kept. 


VI 

CONCERNING   THE   CURES   OF   VARIOUS   DISEASES 
WHICH   WERE   PERFORMED   AT   DRUM   CEATT. 

The  man  of  illustrious  life,  as  has  been  narrated 
to  us  by  witnesses,  healed  the  maladies  of  divers 
sick   people,  by   the   invocation  of  the  Name  of 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         109 

Christ,  in  those  days  when,  proceeding  to  the  Con- 
ference of  the  Kings  at  Drum  Ceatt,  he  sojourned 
there  for  a  short  time.  For  many  sick  persons, 
believing,  recovered  perfect  health,  either  by  the 
stretching  forth  of  his  holy  hand,  or  being  sprinkled 
with  water  blessed  by  him,  or  even  by  the  touch  of 
the  border  of  his  cloak,  or  of  anything — salt,  for 
instance,  or  bread — that  had  received  his  bene- 
diction and  been  dipped  in  water. 

NOTE 
Conference  of  the  Kings  at  Drum  Ceatt 
In  575.     See  also  Book  I.  chapter  x. 


VII 

CONCERNING  A  PIECE  OF  ROCK  SALT,  BLESSED 
BY  THE  SAINT,  WHICH  FIRE  COULD  NOT 
CONSUME. 

Again,  at  another  time  Colgu,  son  of  Cellach, 
asked  and  received  from  the  Saint  a  piece  of  rock 
salt,  blessed  by  him,  for  the  benefit  of  his  sister 
and  nurse  who  was  suffering  from  a  very  severe 
attack  of  ophthalmia.  The  same  sister  and  nurse, 
receiving  this  blessed  gift  from  her  brother's  hand, 
hung  it  on  the  wall  over  her  bed  ;  and  by  chance 
it  happened  that  after  some  days  the  same  village, 
with  the  little  cottage  of  the  above-mentioned 
woman,  was  entirely  burned  down  by  devastating 
flame.  Wonderful  to  say,  a  small  part  of  that  wall 
remained  standing  uninjured  after  the  whole  house 
was    burned,    lest    the    holy    man's    blessed    gift 


no        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

hung  on  it  should  perish  ;  nor  did  the  fire  dare 
touch  the  two  stakes  upon  which  the  piece  of  rock 
salt  was  hanging. 

NOTES 

Blessed  gift 

"  Eulogia,"  and,  a  few  lines  further  down,  "Bene- 
dictio."     See  note,  chapter  v. 

The  two  stakes 

These  were  the  supports   or  uprights  of  the   hurdle 
wall  of  the  cottage.     See  note,  chapter  iii.  of  this  Book. 


VIII 

CONCERNING  THE  LEAF  OF  A  BOOK,  WRITTEN 
BY  THE  SAINT'S  HAND,  WHICH  COULD  NOT 
BE  DAMAGED   BY  WATER. 

Another  miracle  which  was  once  performed  by 
means  of  the  opposite  element  should  not,  I  think, 
be  passed  over  in  silence.  For,  the  cycles  of  many 
years  having  rolled  by  after  the  blessed  man's 
passing  to  the  Lord,  a  certain  youth  fell  from  his 
horse  into  the  river  which  is  called  Boend  in  Irish, 
and  having  sunk  and  died,  remained  under  water 
twenty  days.  And  as  when  he  fell  he  had  under 
his  arm  books  enclosed  in  a  leather  satchel,  so  also 
was  he  found  after  the  above-mentioned  number 
of  days,  holding  the  satchel  with  the  books  between 
his  arm  and  his  side  ;  and  when  his  dead  body 
was  brought  to  dry  land  and  the  satchel  opened, 
among  the  leaves  of  other  books,  which  were  not 
only  decayed  but  even  rotten,  there  was  found,  dry 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         in 

and  in  no  wise  decayed,  just  as  if  it  had  been  laid 
up  in  a  desk,  a  leaf  written  by  the  dear  and  holy 
fingers  of  St.  Columba. 

NOTES 

The  river  Boend 
The  Boyne. 

In  a  leather  satchel  under  his  arm 
Slung  as  shown  on  the  Great  Cross  at  Clonmacnoise. 

"Books  being  so  highly  prized,  as  well  as  they  might 
be,  were  kept  in  satchels  of  embossed  leather  {polairi) 
into  which  they  would  just  fit ;  these  had  long  straps  by 
which  they  could  be  hung  upon  walls  or  round  the  neck 
under  one  arm.  Such  are  the  satchels  of  the  Book  of 
Armagh,  of  the  Corpus  Missal  at  Oxford,  and  of  St. 
Moedoc's  Reliquary.  Curzon  found  the  books  in  the 
library  of  an  Abyssinian  monastery  kept  exactly  in  the 
same  way  ('Monasteries  of  the  Levant'),  and  the 
Corpus  Satchel  is  very  like  an  Ethiopic  one  at  St.  John's 
College.  The  Irish  had  also  larger  satchels  {tiagha)  to 
hold  a  number  of  books. " — Fowler.  The  Book  of  Armagh 
belonged  to  Dr.  Reeves,  and  he  thus  describes  its  case  : 
"Of  leather  cases,  the  cover  of  the  Book  of  Armagh  is 
the  most  interesting  example  now  remaining.  It  is 
formed  of  a  single  piece  of  strong  leather  36  inches 
long  and  12  broad,  folded  in  such  a  way  as  to  form  a 
six-sided  case,  12  inches  long,  I2§  broad,  and  i\  thick, 
having  a  flap  which  doubles  over  in  front,  and  is  furnished 
with  a  rude  lock  and  eight  staples  for  short  iron  rods  to 
enter  and  meet  at  the  lock.  The  whole  outer  surface, 
which  has  become  perfectly  black  from  age,  is  covered 
with  figures  and  interlacings  of  the  Irish  pattern  in 
relief.  ...  At  the  upper  corners  of  the  sides  are  the 
remains  of  coarse  straps,  which  were  stitched  on  with 
leather  thongs  for  slinging  the  case  from  the  shoulder, 
like  a  modern  post  bag. 


ii2         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

IX 

CONCERNING  ANOTHER   MIRACLE   DONE  IN 
SIMILAR  CIRCUMSTANCES. 

At  another  time,  a  Book  of  Hymns  for  the  Week, 
written  by  the  hand  of  St.  Columba,  together  with 
the  leather  satchel  in  which  it  was  enclosed,  fell 
from  the  shoulders  of  a  certain  boy  who  slipped 
from  a  bridge  and  sank  in  a  certain  river  of  the 
distict  of  the  Lagenians  [Leinster  men].  This 
little  book  remained  in  the  waters  from  the  Feast  of 
the  Nativity  of  the  Lord  to  the  end  of  the  Paschal 
season,  and  was  afterwards  found  on  the  bank  of 
the  river  by  some  women  there  walking,  and  carried 
in  the  same  satchel,  which  was  not  only  wet  but 
even  rotten,  to  a  certain  Iogenan,  a  priest,  a  Pict  by 
nation,  whose  property  it  formerly  was.  And  the 
same  Iogenan,  opening  the  satchel,  found  his  little 
book  sound  and  as  clean  and  dry  as  if  it  had  re- 
mained all  that  time  in  a  desk  and  had  never  fallen 
in  the  waters. 

But  we  have  learned  for  certain  from  wit- 
nesses that  other  similar  things  happened  in 
various  places  with  regard  to  books  written  by  the 
hand  of  St.  Columba,  which  books  could  by  no 
means  decay  when  left  in  the  water.  Concerning 
this  very  above-mentioned  book  of  Iogenan,  we 
have  received  the  account  without  any  ambiguity 
from  certain  truthful  and  unexceptionable  men  of 
good  repute  who  inspected  the  same  little  book, 
which  after  all  those  days  under  water,  as  above 
stated,  was  quite  white  and  bright. 


LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA         113 

These  two  miracles,  though  done  in  matters 
of  small  moment,  and  shown  through  opposite 
elements,  namely,  fire  and  water,  bear  witness  to 
the  honour  of  the  blessed  man,  and  of  how  great 
and  rare  a  merit  he  was  held  by  the  Lord. 

NOTES 
Book  of  Hymns 
Hymns  for  the  office  of  every  day  in  the  week. 
' '  We  have  no  collection  remaining  to  answer  the 
present  description,  but  there  are  abundant  materials 
for  an  Irish  Hymnal  in  the"  Antiphonary  of  Bangor,  the 
Leabhar  Breac,  Mone's  Hymni  Medii  Aevi,  and  the 
Liber  Hymnorum  of  Trinity  College,  Dublin." — Reeves. 

A  Pict  by  nation 
Dalaradia,  in  the  north-east,  was  the  proper  region  of 
the  Picts  in  Ireland.  Here  we  find  one  a  priest,  in 
Leinster.  "No  fact  in  the  pagan  history  of  Ireland", 
says  Bishop  MacCarthy,  "is  more  certain  than  that  the 
whole  country  was  originally  held  by  the  Irish  Picts  or 
Irians." 

Could  by  no  means  decay 

This  power  of  resisting  injury  by  water  was  believed 
to  lie  in  the  writings  of  the  early  Irish  Saints — St. 
Kiaran,  St.  Cronan,  St.  Finnian,  St.  Aidan  and  others. 

X 

CONCERNING  WATER  WHICH,  BY  PRAYER  OF  THE 
SAINT,  WAS  BROUGHT  FORTH  FROM  THE 
HARD  ROCK. 

And  because  mention  has  been  made  a  little 
above  of  the  element  of  water,  we  ought  not  to  be 
silent  as  to  other  miracles  also,  which  the  Lord 
wrought  through  the  Saint  in  the  case  of  the  same 
created  thing,  although  at  different  times  and  places. 
1 


114        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

For  at  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was  on  one  of 
his  journeys,  an  infant  is  presented  to  him  by  its" 
parents  for  baptism  as  he  goes  on  his  way  ;  and 
because  in  the  neighbouring  places  there  was  no 
water  to  be  found,  the  Saint,  turning  aside  to  the 
nearest  rock,  prayed  a  little  while  on  bended  knees, 
and  rising  up  after  prayer  blessed  the  brow  of  the 
same  rock,  from  which  thereupon  water  bubbled  up 
and  flowed  forth  abundantly,  and  in  it  he  at  once 
baptized  the  infant.  And  concerning  the  child  thus 
baptized,  he  prophesied,  and  spoke  these  Avords 
saying  :  "  This  little  boy  will  be  long  lived,  even  to 
extreme  old  age.  In  his  youthful  years  he  will  be 
slave  enough  to  carnal  desires ;  and  thereafter, 
devoted  to  Christian  warfare  to  his  life's  end,  he 
will  depart  to  the  Lord  in  a  good  old  age."  All 
which  things  happened  to  the  same  man  according 
to  the  Saint's  prophecy.  This  was  Lugucencalad, 
whose  parents  were  in  Artdaib  Muirchol,  where 
even  at  the  present  day  there  is  a  health-giving 
well  called  after  St.  Columba. 

NOTES 

The  same  created  thing 

* '  For  every  creature  of  God  is  good,  and  nothing  to  be 

refused  if  it  be  used  with  thanksgiving"  (i  Tim.  iv.  4). 

The  expression  occurs  in  the  Roman  Ritual  in  the  rite  for 

blessing  salt  and  water. 

Lugucencalad 
Lugucen,  a  diminutive  of  Lugu  and  Caladh,  "of  the 
ferry." 

Artdaib  Muirchol 
Ardnamurchan,  in  northern  Argyle. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         115 
XI 

CONCERNING  ANOTHER  SPRING,  A  NOXIOUS 
ONE,  WHICH  THE  HOLY  MAN  BLESSED  IN 
THE   COUNTRY   OF  THE   PICTS. 

At  another  time,  when  he  was  sojourning  for 
some  days  in  the  province  of  the  Picts,  the  blessed 
man  hears  that  a  report  was  spread  abroad  among 
the  heathen  people  concerning  another  spring, 
which  foolish  men,  whose  senses  the  devil  had 
blinded,  worshipped  as  a  god.  For  those  who 
drank  of  the  same  spring,  or  purposely  washed 
hands  or  feet  in  it,  were  smitten  by  demoniacal 
power,  God  so  permitting  it,  and  returned  either 
leprous  or  purblind,  or  else  weak,  lame,  or  beset 
by  some  other  maladies  ;  on  account  of  all  which 
things  the  heathens,  led  astray,  paid  divine  honour 
to  the  spring.  On  coming  to  the  knowledge  of 
these  things,  the  Saint  one  day  goes  boldly  up  to 
the  spring  ;  and,  seeing  this,  the  Druids,  whom 
he  himself  had  often  sent  away  abashed  and 
vanquished  by  him,  greatly  rejoiced,  thinking  that 
he  would  suffer  the  like  things  from  contact  with 
that  noxious  water.  But  he,  first  raising  his  holy 
hand  with  invocation  of  the  name  of  Christ,  washes 
his  hands  and  feet ;  then,  with  his  companions, 
drinks  of  the  same  water  he  had  blessed.  And 
from  that  day  the  demons  departed  from  that 
spring,  and  not  only  was  it  not  permitted  to  injure 
any  one,  but  also  after  its  being  blessed  by  the  Saint 
and  his  washing  in  it  many  diseases  among  the 
people  were  cured  by  the  same  fountain. 


n6         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

NOTE 

Worshipped  as  a  divinity 

This  was  prohibited  by  the  Canons.  In  the  penitential 
canons  at  the  end  of  the  Missal  of  St.  Columbanus,  it  is 
laid  down,  "Si  quis  ad  arbores  vel  ad  fontes  votum 
voverit,  tres  annos  preniteat,  quia  hoc  sacrilegium  est ". 
And  in  the  prayer  for  blessing  a  well  it  is  prayed,  \ '  Ut 
aquam  putei  huius  ad  communis  vitae  utilitatem  coelesti 
benedictione  sanctifices,  ut  fugato  ea  omni  diaboli  tenta- 
tionis  seu  pollutionis  incursu  quicumque  ex  ea  deinceps 
biberit  benedictionem  Domini  nostri  Jesu  Christi  per- 
cipiat." 

XII 

CONCERNING  THE  BLESSED  MAN'S  DANGER  ON 
THE  SEA,  AND  THE  SUDDEN  CALMING  OF 
THE  TEMPEST  WHEN  HE  PRAYED. 

At  another  time,  the  holy  man  began  to  be  in 
peril  at  sea,  for  the  whole  hull  of  the  ship  was 
heavily  struck,  and  violently  tossed  about  on  huge 
masses  of  waves,  a  great  storm  of  wind  every- 
where driving  upon  them.  Then,  by  chance,  the 
sailors  say  to  the  Saint,  as  he  tried  with  them 
to  empty  the  bilge-hole :  "  What  thou  art  now 
doing  will  not  help  us  much  in  our  danger ;  thou 
shouldst  rather  pray  for  us,  perishing  as  we  are." 
On  hearing  this  he  ceases  to  empty  out  the  greenish 
briny  bilge- water,  but  begins  to  pour  forth  sweet 
and  fervent  prayer  to  the  Lord.  Wonderful  to 
say,  at  the  same  moment  of  time,  as  the  Saint, 
standing  in  the  bows  with  hands  outstretched  to 
heaven,  prayed  to  the  Almighty,  the  whole  storm 
of  wind  and  fury  of  the  sea  were  stilled,  and  ceased 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         117 

sooner  than  it  takes  to  tell  it,  and  instantly  an 
absolute  calm  ensued.  But  they  who  were  in  the 
ship  were  amazed,  and  rendering  thanks  with  great 
wonder,  glorified  the  Lord  in  the  holy  and  illus- 
trious man. 

XIII 

CONCERNING  ANOTHER   LIKE   PERIL   OF   HIS 
AT  SEA. 

At  another  time  also,  at  the  height  of  a  furious 
and  dangerous  storm,  when  his  companions  cried 
out  that  the  Saint  should  pray  to  the  Lord  for  them, 
he  made  to  them  this  reply,  saying :  "  On  this  day  it 
is  not  for  me  to  pray  for  you  in  the  danger  in  which 
you  are  placed,  but  for  the  holy  man,  the  Abbot 
Cainnech."  I  am  about  to  relate  wondrous  things. 
At  that  same  hour,  the  Holy  Spirit  revealing  it, 
Saint  Cainnech,  living  in  his  monastery,  which  is 
called  in  Latin  Campulus  Bovis,  but  in  Scotic 
[Irish]  Ached-bou,  heard  with  the  internal  ear 
of  his  heart  the  above-mentioned  saying  of  St. 
Columba  ;  and  when  just  after  the  ninth  hour  he 
had  begun  to  break  the  blessed  bread  in  the  re- 
fectory, he  hurriedly  leaves  the  table,  and  with  one 
shoe  clinging  to  his  foot,  and  the  other,  on  account 
of  his  great  haste,  left  behind,  he  goes  hurriedly 
to  the  church,  saying  as  he  goes :  "  It  is  no  time  for 
us  to  dine  now  when  the  ship  of  St.  Columba  is  in 
danger  at  sea.  For  at  this  moment  he  is  woefully 
calling  upon  the  name  of  this  Cainnech  that  he 
may  pray  to  Christ  for  him  and  his  companions  in 


u8        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

peril."  After  these  his  words,  having  entered  the 
oratory,  he  prayed  for  a  little  while  on  bended  knees ; 
and  the  Lord,  hearing  his  prayer,  the  storm  imme- 
diately ceased  and  the  sea  became  quite  calm. 
Then,  next,  St.  Columba  seeing  in  spirit  Cainnech's 
hastening  to  church,  though  he  was  living  far  away, 
wonderfully  utters  this  word  from  his  pure  breast, 
saying  :  "  Now  know  I,  O  Cainnech,  that  God  has 
heard  thy  prayer  ;  now  does  thy  rapid  race  to  the 
church  with  one  shoe  greatly  profit  us."  In  such  a 
miracle  as  this,  therefore,  the  prayer  of  both  Saints, 
as  we  believe,  contributed  to  the  result. 

NOTES 

St.  Cainnech 

Born  517,  died  600.  Called  in  Scotland  Kenneth,  a 
famous  saint,  native  of  Keenaght,  in  Co.  Londonderry, 
where  was  his  principal  church  Drumachose. 

Campulus  Bovis 
Ached-bou,  now  Aghaboe,  in  Queen's  County. 

The  blessed  bread 

Eulogiam:  see  the  notes  to  ch.  v.  and  vii.  Bishop 
MacCarthy  says  that  it  is  here  taken  as  part  of  the  re- 
fection or  dinner,  or  perhaps  the  whole  dinner,  sanctified 
by  the  ordinary  grace  or  blessing.  The  hour  for  dinner 
varied  in  different  Orders  and  according  to  the  different 
seasons.  The  hour  of  None,  i.e.  3  p.m.,  was  the  re- 
fection hour  on  fast  days  from  Pentecost  to  September 
for  the  Benedictines,  and  from  September  to  Lent  that 
was  the  hour  for  every  day. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         119 


XIV 

CONCERNING  THE  STAFF  LEFT  BY  ST.  CAINNECH 
AT   THE   HARBOUR. 

At  another  time,  the  same  Cainnech  above  men- 
tioned, when  about  to  sail  from  the  harbour  of 
Iona  to  Ireland,  forgot  to  take  his  staff  with  him  ; 
which  staff  of  his,  indeed,  was  found  on  the 
seashore  after  his  departure  and  given  into  the 
hand  of  St.  Columba,  who,  on  his  return  home, 
carries  it  into  the  oratory,  and  there  for  a  long 
time  he  remains  alone  in  prayer.  Cainnech  then 
approaching  the  Oidechan  island  [I slay],  was  sud- 
denly inwardly  struck  with  grief  at  his  forgetfulness. 
But  after  some  little  time,  landing  from  the  ship 
and  bending  his  knees  in  prayer  on  the  shore,  he 
found  before  him  on  the  turf  of  the  little  land 
of  Aithche  the  staff  which  he  had  forgotten  and 
left  behind  him  at  the  haven  of  Iona.  And  he 
wondered  greatly  with  thanksgiving  to  God  at  its 
being  thus  transported  by  the  Divine  power. 

NOTES 
The  Staff  (Baculum)  of  St.  Cainnech 
Two  ancient  Celtic  staffs  or  croziers  have  survived  to 
our  day,  the  crozier  of  St.  Fillan,  long  preserved  at 
Strathfillan,  in  Perthshire,  and  that  of  St.  Moluoc,  or 
Moloc,  of  Lismore,  Ireland,  now  in  possession  of  the 
Duke  of  Argyle.  Both  are  described  by  Dr.  Daniel 
Wilson  in  his  "Prehistoric  Annals  of  Scotland"  (ed.  1863, 
II.  477.)  Dr.  Wilson  says  :  "  After  being  preserved  for 
centuries  in  the  immediate  vinicity  of  the  Cathedral  of 
Lismore,  it  has  recently  come  into  the  possession  of  the 


I20         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Duke  of  Argyle.  It  is  known  in  the  district  by  the 
simple  name  of  the  Bachuill  More,  or  big  staff,  and 
consists  of  a  plain  curved  staff,  long  since  spoiled  of  its 
costlier  ornaments,  and  retaining  only  a  few  of  the  rivets 
and  some  fragments  of  the  copper  of  its  metal  casing. 
The  right  of  its  curatorship  was  hereditary,  and  conferred 
on  its  holders  the  popular  title  of  Barons  of  Bachuill  and 
the  possession  of  a  small  freehold  estate."  (See  illustra- 
tion on  p.  98. ) 

The  Oidechan  island 
Called,  further  on  in  the  chapter,  the  "little  land  of 
Aithche "  ;  probably  the  southern  part  of  the  island  of 
I  slay. 

XV 

CONCERNING  BAITHENE  AND  COLUMBAN,  SON  OF 
BEOGNA,  HOLY  PRIESTS,  WHO  ASK  THAT  ON 
THE  SAME  DAY  A  FAVOURABLE  WIND  MAY 
BE  GIVEN  THEM  BY  THE  LORD  THROUGH 
THE  PRAYER  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN,  AL- 
THOUGH THEY  ARE  SAILING  IN  DIFFERENT 
DIRECTIONS. 

At  another  time  also,  the  above-mentioned  holy 
men,  coming  to  the  Saint  together  at  the  same  time, 
ask  of  him  that  he  will  beg  and  obtain  for  them 
from  the  Lord  a  favourable  wind  on  the  morrow, 
as  they  were  to  set  out  in  different  directions.  To 
whom  the  Saint  replying  gave  this  answer  :  "  To- 
morrow morning,  Baithene,  sailing  out  of  the  haven 
of  Iona,  will  have  a  favourable  wind  until  he  reaches 
the  port  of  the  Plain  of  Lunge  (in  Tiree)."  Which 
the  Lord  so  granted,  according  to  the  Saint's  word ; 
for  on  that  day  Baithene  crossed  with  full  sails  all 
the  great  sea  to  the  Ethican  land  (Tiree). 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         121 

But  at  the  third  hour  of  the  same  day  the  vener- 
able man  calls  to  him  Columbanus,  the  priest, 
saying  :  "  Now  has  Baithene  arrived  safely  at  the 
desired  port ;  prepare  thyself  to  sail  to-day  ;  the 
Lord  will  soon  change  the  wind  to  the  north."  And 
at  the  same  hour  the  south  wind,  obeying  the  word 
spoken  by  the  blessed  man,  changes  into  a  northerly 
wind  ;  and  so  on  the  same  day  each  of  the  holy 
men,  the  one  quitting  the  other  in  peace,  sailed 
forth  with  full  sails  and  favourable  breezes,  Baithene 
in  the  morning  to  the  Ethican  land,  Columban  in 
the  afternoon  making  for  Ireland.  This  miracle 
was  done,  the  Lord  granting  it,  by  the  power  of  the 
illustrious  man's  prayers,  for,  as  it  is  written,  "  All 
things  are  possible  to  him  that  believeth." 

After  the  departure  of  Columban,  on  that  day 
Saint  Columba  spoke  concerning  him  this  prophetic 
word  :  "  The  holy  man  Columban,  whom  we  blessed 
on  his  departure,  will  nowhere  in  this  world  see 
my  face  again."  Which  so  afterwards  fell  out ;  for 
in  that  same  year  [a.d.  595]  Saint  Columba  passed 
away  to  the  Lord. 

NOTES 

Columban  the  priest 

This  was  Colman  Ela,  or  Colmanellus,  born  in 
Glenelly,  Co.  Tyrone,  555,  who  died  in  his  monastery  of 
Lynally,  near  Tullamore,  King's  County,  61 1.  In  the 
title  of  Book  I.  chapter  v.  he  is  called  bishop. 


122         LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 


XVI 

CONCERNING  THE  EXPULSION   OF  A  DEMON 
THAT  LURKED   IN   A  MILK   PAIL. 

At  another  time  a  certain  youth,  Columban  by 
name,  of  the  race  of  Briun,  came  suddenly,  and 
stood  at  the  door  of  the  hut  in  which  the  blessed 
man  was  writing.  He  was  returning  from  milking 
the  cows,  carrying  on  his  back  a  pail  full  of  new 
milk,  and  speaks  to  the  Saint,  that  according  to  cus- 
tom, he  might  bless  this  burden.  The  Saint  lifts  his 
hand  from  a  distance  and  traces  over  against  him 
the  Saving  Sign  in  the  air,  which  thereupon  became 
greatly  agitated,  and  the  bolt  of  the  lid  was  driven 
through  its  two  sockets  and  shot  far  away  ;  the 
lid  fell  to  earth,  and  the  greater  part  of  the  milk 
was  spilled  on  the  ground.  The  lad  then  sets 
down  the  pail  on  the  ground,  with  what  little 
milk  remained  at  the  bottom,  and  bends  his  knees 
to  pray.  And  to  him  the  Saint  says :  "  Rise, 
Columban  ;  thou  hast  acted  negligently  in  thy  task 
to-day,  for  thou  hast  not  cast  out  the  demon  that 
was  lurking  at  the  bottom  of  the  empty  pail  by 
making  on  it  the  Sign  of  the  Lord's  Cross  before 
pouring  in  the  milk  ;  and  now  he  is  unable  to  en- 
dure the  power  of  that  sign  and  takes  himself  off 
in  terror,  the  whole  pail  being  at  the  same  time 
shaken,  and  the  milk  spilled.  Bring  hither  the 
pail,  therefore,  nearer  to  me,  that  I  may  bless  it." 
And  this  being  done,  the  partly-empty  pail  which 
the  Saint  had  blessed  was  in  the  same  moment 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         123 

filled  by  Divine  power,  and  the  little  which  had 
before  remained  at  the  bottom  of  the  pail,  under 
the  blessing  of  his  holy  hand  quickly  increased 
until  it  rose  to  the  top. 

NOTES 
The  bar  of  the  lid 
"Gergenna    operculi",    the   wooden   crossbar   which 
fastened  down  the  lid.     Pails  of  this  kind  are  still  used 
in  the  north  of  Ireland. 

The  demon  that  lurked  at  the  bottom 

Bishop  MacCarthy  calls  attention  to  the  commentary 
of  St.  Jerome  on  the  6th  chapter  of  the  epistle  to  the 
Ephesians,  in  which  he  says  that,  "it  is  the  opinion 
of  all  the  learned  that  this  air  which  divides  heaven 
and  is  called  '  the  void '  is  full  of  powers  adverse  to 
man".  So  great  was  the  authority  of  St.  Jerome  in 
the  Primitive  Irish  Church,  that  any  opinion  contrary 
to  his  on  Scriptural  questions  was  regarded  almost  as 
heresy. 

XVII 

[Concerning  a  certain  spell  practised  by  a 
sorcerer,  by  means  of  diabolical  art,  at  the  house 
of  a  rich  countryman,  Foirtgirn  by  name,  who 
lived  in  Mount  Cainle,  which  was  reproved  and 
counteracted  by  the  blessed  man.] 


XVIII 

CONCERNING  LUGNE  MOCUMIN. 

One  day   a  certain  youth  of  good  disposition, 
Lugne  by  name,  who  afterwards  when  an  old  man 


124         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

was  prelate  in  the  monastery  of  the  island  Elena, 
coming  to  the  Saint,  complains  of  a  flow  of  blood 
which  for  many  months  had  often  poured  profusely 
from  his  nostrils.  And,  having  asked  him  to  come 
nearer,  the  Saint  blessed  him,  pressing  both  his 
nostrils  with  two  fingers  of  his  right  hand.  And 
from  the  hour  of  that  blessing  even  to  his  last  day 
blood  never  came  from  his  nose. 

NOTE 

The  is/and  Elena 

Perhaps  Eilean  na  Naoimh,  Holy  Island,  one  of  the 
Garvelock  Isles,  north-west  of  Scarba.  Many  remains 
upon  it  give  evidence  of  its  early  importance  as  an 
ecclesiastical  establishment.  "  The  crowd  of  low  build- 
ings ",  says  Mr.  Cosmo  Innes,  ' '  has  all  the  appearance 
of  a  monastic  establishment,  and  if  it  was  so  these  are 
perhaps  the  oldest  vestiges  of  the  sort  now  standing  in 
Scotland."  Mr.  T.  Muir  says  that  Eilean  Naomh  has 
the  enviable  reputation  of  being  closely  connected  by 
common  tradition  with  St.  Columba,  who  is  said  to  have 
often  visited  and  resided  on  the  island  while  prosecuting 
his  missionary  labours."  Dr.  Reeves  thinks  Eilean 
Naomh  may  be  the  Hinba  island  mentioned  in  chapter 
xxi.  of  Book  I.  and  elsewhere. 


XIX 

CONCERNING   FISHES   SPECIALLY  PREPARED   BY 
GOD   FOR  THE  BLESSED   MAN. 

At  another  time,  when  some  hardy  fishermen, 
companions  of  the  Saint,  had  taken  five  fishes  in 
a  net  in  the  fish-abounding  river  Sale,  the  Saint 
says  to  them  again  :  "  Cast  your  net  again  in  the 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         125 

river,  and  immediately  you  will  find  a  large  fish 
which  the  Lord  has  prepared  for  me."  And  they, 
obeying  the  Saint's  word,  drew  up  in  the  net  a 
salmon  of  wonderful  size,  prepared  for  him  by 
God.  At  another  time,  also,  when  the  Saint  was 
staying  for  some  days  near  Lough  Key,  when  his 
companions  desired  to  go  fishing  he  prevented 
them,  saying  :  "  To-day  and  to-morrow  no  fish  will 
be  found  in  the  river ;  I  will  send  you  on  the 
third  day,  and  you  will  find  two  large  river  salmon 
caught  in  the  net.''"  And  so,  after  two  short  days, 
casting  the  net  they  drew  to  land  two  of  very  un- 
common size,  which  they  found  in  the  river  Bo 
(Boyle). 

In  these  two  fishings  that  have  been  mentioned 
the  power  of  miracle  appears,  accompanied  at  the 
same  time  by  prophetic  foreknowledge  ;  for  which 
things  the  Saint  and  his  companions  gave  fervent 
thanks  to  God. 

NOTES 

The  river  Sale 

Either  the  Blackwater  in  Meath,  anciently  Sale,  or 
Sele,  or  the  Shiel  in  Scotland  flowing  out  of  Loch  Shiel. 
See  chapter  xlv.  of  this  Book. 

Lough  Key 
County  Roscommon. 

The  river  Bo 

The  Boyle,  which  joins  the  Shannon  near  St.  Col- 
umba's  church  of  Kilmore. 


126        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XX 

CONCERNING  NESAN,  THE  CROOKED,  WHO  LIVED 
IN  THE  REGION  BORDERING  ON  LAKE 
APORUM   (LOCHABER). 

This  Nesan,  though  he  was  very  poor,  on  one 
occasion  joyfully  received  the  holy  man  as  his 
guest.  And  when  he  had  entertained  him  as 
hospitably  as  his  means  would  afford  for  the  space 
of  one  night,  the  Saint  asks  him  how  many  little 
cows  he  had.  "Five",  says  he.  The  Saint  then 
says,  "  Bring  them  to  me,  that  I  may  bless  them." 
And  they,  being  brought  and  blessed  with  his  holy 
hand  uplifted  :  "  From  this  day  forth ",  says  the 
Saint,  "  thy  few  little  cows,  five  only,  shall  increase 
to  the  number  of  a  hundred  and  five  cows."  And 
because  the  same  Nesan  was  a  man  of  humble 
birth,  with  wife  and  children,  the  blessed  man 
conferred  on  him  also  this  blessing  in  addition, 
saying  :  "  Thy  seed  shall  be  blessed  in  children 
and  in  grandchildren."  All  which  things  were 
completely  fulfilled  according  to  the  Saint's  word 
without  any  short  coming. 

[In  a  manuscript  of  the  fifteenth  century  in  the 
British  Museum,  one  of  the  Royal  Collection, 
No.  8d.  ix.,  the  following  is  here  added]  : — 

On  the  other  hand,  concerning  a  certain  rich 
but  very  niggardly  man,  Uigene  by  name,  who  had 
despised  St.  Columba,  and  had  not  received  him 
as  guest,  he  uttered  this  prophetic  sentence,  say- 
ing :    "  But    the    riches   of   that   miser,   who   has 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         127 

contemned  Christ  in  the  strangers  seeking  his 
hospitality,  from  this  day  shall  gradually  decrease 
and  shall  be  reduced  to  nothing  ;  and  he  himself 
shall  beg ;  and  his  son  shall  go  about  from  house 
to  house  with  a  half-empty  wallet ;  and  he  shall  be 
struck  by  some  rival  with  an  axe  in  the  pit  of  a 
threshing  floor  and  die."  All  which  things  in  both 
cases  were  completely  fulfilled,  according  to  the 
prophecy  of  the  holy  man. 

NOTE 

Lake  Aporum 

Lochaber.  The  name,  says  Reeves,  has  departed  from 
its  primary  application,  and  does  not  now  belong  to  any 
sheet  of  water  so  as  to  answer  the  description  in  the  text. 
Part  of  Loch  Eil,  an  inlet  of  the  sea,  was  probably  the 
Loch  Abor  of  early  times.  So  Lochnagar  in  Aberdeen- 
shire is  now  the  name  of  a  mountain  only. 

XXI 

CONCERNING  COLUMBAN,  A  MAN  OF  EQUALLY 
HUMBLE  CONDITION,  WHOSE  VERY  FEW- 
CATTLE  THE  HOLY  MAN  BLESSED  ;  BUT 
AFTER  HIS  BENEDICTION  THEY  INCREASED 
TO  THE  NUMBER   OF  ONE  HUNDRED. 

At  another  time  again,  the  blessed  man  was 
well  received  one  night  as  a  guest  by  the  above- 
mentioned  Columban,  at  that  time  a  poor  man, 
and  the  first  thing  in  the  morning  the  Saint,  as 
has  been  related  above  in  the  case  of  Nesan,  asks 
his  peasant  host  as  to  the  quantity  and  quality  of 
his  possessions.  And  he,  thus  questioned,  says  : 
"  I  have  only  five  little  cows,  which,  if  thou  wilt 


128         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

bless  them,  will  increase  to  more."  And,  at  the 
Saint's  command,  he  immediately  brought  them, 
and,  in  the  same  manner  as  has  been  said  above 
as  to  the  five  little  cows  of  Nesan,  equally  blessing 
the  five  little  cows  of  this  Columban,  he  says :  "  By 
the  gift  of  God  thou  shalt  have  a  hundred  and 
five  cows,  and  there  shall  be  on  thy  children  and 
grandchildren  an  abundant  blessing."  All  which 
things,  according  to  the  blessed  man's  prophecy, 
were  most  abundantly  fulfilled  in  his  lands  and 
cattle  and  offspring  ;  and  in  a  wonderful  manner 
the  number  determined  by  the  Saint  for  both  the 
afore  said  men  was  completed,  to  the  number  of  one 
hundred  and  five  cows,  and  could  not  in  any  way 
be  added  to :  for  those  that  were  in  excess  of 
the  limited  number  were  carried  off  by  various 
accidents  and  nowhere  appeared,  except  in  so  far 
as  anything  might  be  expended  for  the  personal 
use  of  the  family,  or  else  in  the  work  of  alms- 
giving. 

In  this  narrative,  therefore,  as  in  others,  the 
power  of  miracle  is  clearly  shown,  together  with 
prophecy  :  for  in  the  great  multiplication  of  the 
cows  appears  equally  the  virtue  of  blessing  and  of 
prayer,  and  in  the  predetermination  of  the  number 
prophetic  foreknowledge. 

NOTE 

Little  cows 

"Vacculae"  and  "bocute".     Throughout  Adamnan's 

work  diminutives  are  constantly  used,  and  these  in  most 

cases  are  used  in  a  sense  of  endearment,   difficult  to 

convey  in  English,  perfectly  natural  as  they  are  in  the 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         129 

mouth  of  the  kindly  and  warm-hearted  Irish  Saint.  In 
the  present  case,  Dr.  Reeves  thinks,  the  diminutives  may 
indicate  the  poorness  of  the  animals  from  the  little 
there  was  to  feed  them  upon. 


XXII 

CONCERNING  THE  DEATH  OF  WICKED   MEN  WHO 
HAD   MOCKED  THE  SAINT. 

The  venerable  man  greatly  loved  the  above- 
mentioned  Columban,  and  the  virtue  of  his  bless- 
ing had  made  him  rich  from  having  been  poor, 
for  he  had  rendered  to  him  many  acts  of  kind- 
ness. Now  there  was  at  that  time  a  certain  man, 
an  evil-doer,  a  persecutor  of  good  men,  loan  by 
name,  son  of  Conall,  son  of  Domhnall,  sprung 
from  the  royal  race  of  Gabran.  This  man  per- 
secuted the  aforesaid  Columbanus,  the  friend  of 
St.  Columba,  and  acting  with  hostility  devastated 
his  homestead,  not  once  only,  but  twice,  carrying 
off  all  he  could  find  in  it.  Whence  by  chance  it 
happened,  and  not  undeservedly,  to  this  wicked 
man,  that  a  third  time,  after  a  third  plundering  of 
that  home,  while  returning  to  the  ship  with  his 
comrades  laden  with  spoil,  he  met  the  blessed 
man  drawing  near  to  him  whom,  when  he  was  at  a 
distance,  he  had  despised.  And  when  the  Saint 
reproached  him  for  his  evil  deeds,  and  begged  and 
besought  him  to  set  down  the  plunder,  he  in  his 
churlishness  and  stubbornness  despised  the  Saint, 
and  boarding  his  ship  with  the  booty  mocked  and 
sneered  at  the  blessed  man.  And  the  Saint 
K 


I30        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

followed  him  as  far  as  the  sea,  and  walking  into 
the  crystal  waters  up  to  his  knees,  with  both  hands 
raised  to  heaven,  earnestly  prays  to  Christ,  who 
glorifies  His  elect  that  glorify  Him.  Now  that 
harbour  in  which,  thus  standing,  he  prayed  to  the 
Lord  after  the  departure  of  the  oppressor,  is  at  the 
place  which  is  called  in  Irish  Ait-Chambas  Art- 
Muirchol  [Camus-an-Gaal  Ardnamurchan]. 

Then  the  Saint,  his  prayer  ended,  returns  to 
the  dry  land  and  sits  down  with  his  companions 
on  rather  high  ground ;  and  in  that  hour  he 
utters  to  them  very  terrible  words,  saying:  "This 
churl  who  has  despised  Christ  in  His  servants 
will  never  return  to  the  harbour  from  which,  in 
your  presence,  he  has  just  set  forth  ;  but  neither 
will  he  arrive  with  his  wicked  accomplices  at  the 
other  shores  which  he  seeks,  for  he  will  be  fore- 
stalled by  sudden  death.  To-day  a  furious  storm, 
which  ye  will  soon  see  arising  out  of  a  cloud  in  the 
north,  shall  overwhelm  him  with  his  comrades, 
nor  shall  even  one  of  them  survive  to  tell  the  tale." 

After  waiting  a  very  little  while,  on  the  calmest 
of  days,  lo  !  a  cloud,  rising  as  the  Saint  had  said 
from  the  sea,  bursts  with  a  great  squall  of  wind, 
and  finding  the  robber  with  his  spoil  between  the 
islands  of  Mull  and  Colonsay,  suddenly  plunged 
him  into  the  midst  of  the  raging  sea :  nor  did  even 
one  of  them  who  were  in  the  ship  escape,  accord- 
ing to  the  Saint's  word  ;  and  in  a  wonderful 
manner,  while  all  around  the  whole  sea  remained 
calm,  did  one  such  storm  drown  and  sink  the  pirates 
into  hell  in  miserable  but  well-deserved  ruin. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  131 

NOTES 
loan,  son  of  Conall  .  .  .  of  the  royal  race  of  Gabran 
Gabhran  was  king  of  the  Scotic  Dalriada  in  558. 

Ait-Chambas  Art-Mtiirchol 
There  is  a  place  called  Camusnangel  in  Ardnamurchan, 
the  peninsula  on  the  northern  boundary  of  Argyleshire. 


XXIII 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  FERADACH,  CARRIED 
OFF  BY  SUDDEN  DEATH. 

At  another  time  again,  the  holy  man  specially 
entrusted  and  commended  to  the  hand  of  one 
Feradach,  a  rich  man,  who  lived  in  the  Ilean  Isle 
[I slay],  that  he  might  live  for  some  months  in  his 
retinue  as  one  of  his  friends,  a  certain  exile  of  a 
noble  Pictish  family,  Tarain  by  name.  But  after 
receiving  him  from  the  hand  of  the  holy  man, 
commended  with  such  a  recommendation,  after  a 
few  days  he  acted  treacherously  and  cruelly  ordered 
him  to  be  slain. 

And  when  this  monstrous  crime  was  told  to 
the  Saint  by  fellow-travellers,  he  thus  replied  : 
"  Not  to  me,  but  to  God,  has  that  unhappy  wretch 
lied,  and  his  name  will  be  blotted  out  from  the 
Book  of  Life.  These  words  we  are  now  speaking 
in  the  middle  of  summer  time  ;  but  in  the  autumn, 
before  he  shall  taste  of  s wines'  flesh  fattened  on 
the  fruit  of  trees,  he  shall  be  overtaken  by  a 
sudden  death  and  carried  off  to  the  Infernal 
Regions."     When  this  prophecy  of  the  holy  man 


132         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

was  announced  to  the  miserable  wretch,  he  de- 
spised it  and  scoffed  at  the  Saint.  And  after  some 
days  of  the  autumn  months  a  sow,  fattened  on  nut- 
kernels,  is  killed  by  his  order,  before  any  other  swine 
of  the  same  man's  had  yet  been  slaughtered  ;  he 
orders  that  its  entrails  be  immediately  taken  out, 
and  a  piece  quickly  roasted  for  him  on  the  spit,  so 
that  in  his  impatience  to  taste  of  it  he  might  bring 
to  naught  the  holy  man's  prediction.  And  as 
soon  as  it  was  roasted  he  asked  for  the  least 
little  morsel  to  be  given  him  to  taste  ;  and  before 
he  could  raise  to  his  mouth  the  hand  he  had 
stretched  forth  to  take  it,  he  breathed  his  last 
and  fell  dead  on  his  back.  And  they  who  saw  and 
heard  were  greatly  terrified  and  astonished,  and 
gave  glory  to  Christ  and  honoured  Him  in  His 
holy  prophet. 


XXIV 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  OTHER  WICKED  MAN, 
A  PERSECUTOR  OF  THE  CHURCHES,  WHOSE 
NAME  IS  CALLED  IN  LATIN  "  MANUS 
DEXTERA." 

At  another  time  the  blessed  man,  when  staying 
in  the  island  Hinba,  began  to  excommunicate 
other  persecutors  of  the  churches,  namely,  the 
sons  of  Conall,  son  of  Domnaill,  of  whom  one 
was  loan,  of  whom  we  have  made  mention  above 
[in  chapter  xxii.],  a  certain  wicked  companion  of 
theirs,  at  the  instigation  of  the  devil,  rushed  forth 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         133 

with  a  spear  to  kill  the  Saint.  To  prevent  this  one 
of  the  Brethren,  Findlugan  by  name,  who  was  ready 
to  die  for  the  holy  man,  put  himself  in  their  way 
clad  in  the  Saint's  cowl.  But  in  a  wonderful  manner 
this  garment  of  the  blessed  man,  like  some  very 
strong  and  impenetrable  coat  of  mail,  could  not 
be  pierced  by  the  strong  thrust  of  the  sharpest 
spear  by  however  strong  a  man,  but  remained 
scatheless,  and  he  who  was  clad  in  it  was  un- 
touched and  safeguarded  by  such  a  shield.  But 
that  ruffian,  called  Manus  Dextera,  returned  back 
believing  that  he  had  transfixed  the  holy  man  with 
his  spear. 

After  a  full  year  from  that  day,  when  the  Saint 
was  living  in  the  island  of  Iona,  he  says :  "To-day 
is  a  full  year  since  the  day  on  which  Lamh  Dess,  so 
far  as  he  was  able,  killed  Findlugan  in  my  stead  ; 
but  he  himself,  as  I  think,  is  being  killed  in  this 
hour."  Which  according  to  the  revelation  of  the 
Saint  was  done  at  the  same  moment  in  that  island 
which  in  Latin  may  be  called  Longa  [Luing], 
where  in  some  fight  between  two  factions  Lamh 
Dess  alone  was  slain,  being  transfixed  by  the 
javelin  of  Cronan,  son  of  Baithene,  hurled,  as  is 
said,  in  the  name  of  St.  Columba.  And  after  his 
death  the  men  ceased  fighting. 

NOTES 
"  Manus  Dextera'''' 
Further  on  his  name  is  given  in  Irish,  Lamh  Dess. 

Findlugan 
St.    Finnloga,    Finlagan.      The   church   which   com- 


134         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

memorates  him  is  Tamlaght-Finlagan,  near  Newtown- 
limavaddy,  Co.  Londonderry.  In  the  island  of  Islay  are 
a  loch,  an  island,  and  a  chapel  named  after  this  Saint. 

Coat  of  mail 

"Lorica."     This  was  the  mail  hauberk  of  interlaced 
rings. 

Longa  Island 
Luing,  near  Scarba. 


XXV 

CONCERNING    ANOTHER    MAN,  ALSO    A    PERSE- 
CUTOR  OF  THE    INNOCENT. 

When  the  blessed  man,  as  yet  a  young  deacon, 
was  living  in  the  district  of  the  Lagenians  [Lein- 
ster]  learning  divine  wisdom,  it  happened  one  day 
that  a  certain  man,  a  savage,  cruel  persecutor  of 
the  innocent,  was  pursuing  a  certain  young  girl 
(who  was  fleeing  from  him)  on  the  level  plain.  And 
when  by  chance  she  saw  the  old  man  Gemman, 
the  tutor  of  the  above-mentioned  young  deacon, 
reading  on  the  plain,  she  ran  straight  to  him  as 
fast  as  she  could.  And  he,  startled  by  so  sudden 
an  occurrence,  calls  Columba,  who  was  reading  at 
a  distance,  so  that  both,  so  far  as  they  could, 
might  defend  the  girl  from  her  pursuer.  But  he 
immediately  coming  up,  and  without  doing  them 
any  reverence,  slew  the  girl  under  their  cloaks  with 
a  lance,  and,  leaving  her  lying  dead  about  their  feet, 
turned  to  go  away.  The  old  man  thereupon,  deeply 
afflicted,  turning  to  Columba,  says  :  "  For  how 
long,  O  holy  youth,  Columba,  to  our  disgrace,  will 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         135 

God,  the  just  Judge,  allow  this  crime  to  be  un- 
avenged ?  "  The  Saint  thereupon  pronounced  this 
sentence  upon  the  criminal  himself,  saying  :  "  In 
the  same  hour  in  which  the  soul  of  the  girl  he 
has  slain  mounts  to  heaven,  the  soul  of  the  slayer 
himself  shall  sink  to  hell."  And  quicker  than  it 
takes  to  tell  it,  with  the  very  word,  like  Ananias  be- 
fore Peter,  so  also  that  slayer  of  the  innocent,  before 
the  eyes  of  the  holy  youth,  fell  dead  on  the  spot. 
The  news  of  this  sudden  and  terrible  vengeance 
was  at  once  spread  abroad  through  many  districts 
of  Ireland,  together  with  the  wonderful  fame  of 
the  holy  deacon. 

Let  it  suffice  to  have  said  this  much  concerning 
these  terrible  vengeances  on  his  adversaries.  Now 
we  will  relate  some  few  things  concerning  wild 
beasts. 

NOTES 

The  innocent 

"  Innocentium":  a  term  often  applied  to  women  and 
children. 

The  old  man  Gemman  .  .   .  tutor 

He  is  referred  to  in  the  Life  of  St.  Finnian  of  Clonard 
("Acta  Sanctorum")  as  a  Christian  Bard,  and  an  in- 
habitant of  the  plain  of  Meath,  where  probably  the 
event  narrated  in  this  chapter  occurred.  He  was  brought 
into  communication  with  St.  Finnian,  whose  church  was 
the  principal  one  in  the  territory. 


136         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 
XXVI 

CONCERNING  A  WILD   BOAR  DESTROYED 
THROUGH   HIS   PRAYER. 

At  another  time,  while  the  blessed  man  was 
staying  for  some  days  in  the  island  of  Skye,  and 
alone,  rather  far  away  from  the  Brethren,  for  the 
sake  of  prayer,  entering  a  thick  wood  he  met 
a  boar  of  extraordinary  size,  which  the  hounds 
happened  to  be  chasing.  And  seeing  him  from  a 
distance,  the  Saint  stood  still  watching  him.  Then, 
invoking  the  name  of  God,  and  raising  his  holy 
hand,  with  earnest  prayer  he  says  to  him  :  "  Come 
no  further  in  this  direction  ;  on  the  spot  to  which 
thou  hast  now  come,  die  ! "  As  the  sound  of  the 
Saint's  word  rang  in  the  woods,  not  only  was 
the  terrible  wild  beast  unable  to  approach  further, 
but  quickly  at  once,  before  his  very  face,  fell  down 
killed  by  the  power  of  his  word. 

XXVII 

CONCERNING  THE  REPULSE  OF  A  CERTAIN 
AQUATIC  MONSTER  BY  VIRTUE  OF  THE 
BLESSED   MAN'S   PRAYER. 

At  another  time  also,  when  the  blessed  man  was 
sojourning  for  some  days  in  the  province  of  the 
Picts,  he  was  obliged  to  cross  the  river  Nesa  [the 
Ness] ;  and  when  he  had  come  to  the  bank,  he  sees 
some  of  the  inhabitants  burying  an  unfortunate 
fellow  whom,  as  those  who  were  burying  him 
related,  a  little  while  before  some  aquatic  monster 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         137 

seized  and  savagely  bit  while  he  was  swimming, 
and  whose  hapless  body  some  men,  coming  up 
though  too  late  in  a  boat,  rescued  by  means  of 
hooks  which  they  threw  out.  The  blessed  man, 
however,  hearing  these  things,  orders  one  of  his 
companions  to  swim  out  and  bring  him  from  over 
the  water  a  coble  that  was  beached  on  the  other 
bank.  And  hearing  and  obeying  the  command  of 
the  holy  and  illustrious  man,  Lugne  Mocumin, 
without  delay  takes  off  his  clothes,  except  his 
tunic,  and  casts  himself"  into  the  water.  But  the 
monster,  which  was  lying  in  the  river  bed,  and 
whose  appetite  was  rather  whetted  for  more  prey 
than  sated  with  what  it  already  had,  perceiving 
the  surface  of  the  water  disturbed  by  the  swimmer, 
suddenly  comes  up  and  moves  towards  the  man 
as  he  swam  in  mid  stream,  and  with  a  great  roar 
rushes  on  him  with  open  mouth,  while  all  who 
were  there,  barbarians  as  well  as  Brethren,  were 
greatly  terror-struck.  The  blessed  man  seeing  it, 
after  making  the  Salutary  Sign  of  the  Cross  in 
the  empty  air  with  his  holy  hand  upraised,  and 
invoking  the  Name  of  God,  commanded  the  fero- 
cious monster,  saying  :  "  Go  thou  no  further,  nor 
touch  the  man ;  go  back  at  once."  Then,  on 
hearing  this  word  of  the  Saint,  the  monster  was 
terrified,  and  fled  away  again  more  quickly  than  if 
it  had  been  dragged  off  by  ropes,  though  it  had 
approached  Lugne  as  he  swam  so  closely  that 
between  man  and  monster  there  was  no  more  than 
the  length  of  one  punt  pole.  Then  the  Brethren 
greatly  marvelling,  seeing  the  monster  had  gone 


138         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

back,  and  that  their  comrade  Lugne  had  returned 
to  them  in  the  boat,  untouched  and  unharmed, 
glorified  God  in  the  blessed  man.  And  even  the 
barbarous  heathens  who  were  there  present,  con- 
strained by  the  greatness  of  the  miracle  which 
they  themselves  had  seen,  magnified  the  God  of 

the  Christians. 

NOTES 

Aquatic  monster 
"Aquatilis  bestia."  "The  belief",  says  Dr.  Reeves, 
"that  certain  rivers  and  lakes  were  haunted  by  serpents 
of  a  demoniacal  and  terrible  character  was  current  among 
the  Irish  at  a  very  remote  period,  and  still  prevails  in 
many  parts  of  Ireland."  It  is  recorded  by  Colgan 
("Acta  Sanctorum")  that  St.  Molua  and  St.  Colman 
of  Dromore,  like  St.  Columba  in  the  present  instance, 
saved  people  from  monsters  which  infested  lakes.  Mr.  W. 
R.  Le  Fanu,  in  "Seventy  Years  of  Irish  Life",  says: 
"  The  dreadful  beast,  the  wurrum — half  fish,  half  dragon 
— still  survives  in  many  a  mountain  lake — seldom  seen, 
indeed,  but  often  heard.  Near  our  fishing  quarters  in 
Kerry  there  are  two  such  lakes,  one  the  beautiful  little 
lake  at  the  head  of  the  Blackwater  River  called  Lough 
Brin,  from  Brin,  or  Bran  as  he  is  now  called,  the 
direful  wurrum  which  inhabits  it.  The  man  who  minds 
the  boat  there  speaks  with  awe  of  Bran  ;  he  tells  me  he 
has  never  seen  him,  and  hopes  he  never  may,  but  has 
often  heard  him  roaring  on  a  stormy  night.  On  being 
questioned  as  to  what  the  noise  was  like,  he  said  it  was 
'like  the  roaring  of  a  young  bull.'  .  .  .  Some  miles 
further  on,  between  Lough  Brin  and  Glencar,  there  is 
another  lake,  from  which  a  boy,  while  bathing,  was 
driven  and  chased  by  the  dreadful  wurrum,  which  dwells 
in  it.  It  bit  him  on  the  back,  and  hunted  him  all  the 
way  home,  where  he  arrived  naked  and  bleeding." 

The  river  Nesa 
The  Ness,  between  Loch  Ness  and  the  Moray  Firth. 
Inverness  lies  at  its  estuary. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         139 

Boat 

Alnus,  caupallus,  and  navicula  are  the  words  used 
here ;  alnus  for  the  boat  with  which  the  body  of  the 
man  was  rescued,  and  caupallus  for  that  which  was 
fetched  across  by  the  faithful  Lugne.  Alnus  is  a  classical 
word  for  a  boat  of  alderwood,  and  caupallus,  afterwards 
also  called  navicula,  is  used  for  the  coble,  or  small  fiat- 
bottomed  boat  or  punt. 


XXVIII 

CONCERNING  THE  LAND  OF  THIS  ISLAND  (iONA) 
BLESSED  BY  THE  SAINT,  SO  THAT  HENCE- 
FORTH THE  POISON  OF  VIPERS  MAY  HARM 
NO  ONE   IN   IT. 

On  a  day  of  that  same  summer  season  in  which 
he  passed  away  to  the  Lord,  the  Saint  goes  in 
a  waggon,  to  visit  the  Brethren  who  were  en- 
gaged in  manual  labour  in  the  western  plain  of  the 
isle  of  Iona.  After  speaking  consoling  words  to 
them,  the  Saint,  standing  upon  higher  ground, 
thus  prophesies,  saying :  "  From  this  day,  my 
children,  I  know  that  never  will  you  be  able  to  see 
my  face  again  in  the  fields  of  this  plain."  And 
seeing  them  greatly  saddened  at  hearing  this 
saying,  endeavouring  to  console  them  as  much  as 
he  could,  he  raises  both  his  holy  hands,  and 
blessing  the  whole  of  this  our  island,  says  :  "  From 
this  present  moment  the  poison  of  no  vipers  shall 
in  any  way  have  power  to  harm  either  men  or 
cattle  within  the  borders  of  this  island,  so  long  as 
the  inhabitants  who  dwell  here  shall  observe  the 
commands  of  Christ." 


i4o         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

. 

NOTES 
The  western  plain 
Now  called  the  Machar. 

On  higher  ground 
Probably  on  one  of  the  "fairy  hills."     One  of  them  is 
the  Colliculus  Angelorum,  of  chapter  xliv.  in  this  Book 
and  of  III.  xvi. 

The  poison  of  no  vipers 
No  snakes  or  vipers  have  ever  been  seen  in  Iona, 
though  they  are  quite  common  on  the  opposite  coast. 
The  driving  of  demons,  serpents  and  toads  out  of  Ireland 
by  St.  Patrick  is  mentioned  in  the  life  of  that  Saint  by 
Jocelin  of  Furness,  written  in  the  twelfth  century. 


XXIX 

ABOUT  A  DIRK  BLESSED   BY  THE  SAINT  WITH 
THE   SIGN   OF  THE   LORD'S   CROSS. 

Another  time,  a  certain  Brother  named  Molua,  a 
descendant  of  Briun,  comes  to  the  Saint,  who  was 
writing  at  the  time,  and  says  to  him  :  "  I  pray  thee 
bless  this  steel  which  I  have  in  my  hand."  And  he, 
stretching  forth  a  little  his  holy  hand  with  the  pen 
in  it,  blessed  it,  making  the  sign  with  his  face 
turned  the  while  to  the  book  out  of  which  he  was 
writing.  And  as  the  above-mentioned  Brother 
was  going  away  with  the  steel  that  had  been 
blessed,  the  Saint  asks,  saying  :  "  What  steel  is  it 
that  I  have  blessed  for  the  Brother?"  Diormit, 
his  faithful  attendant,  says  :  "  A  dirk  hast  thou 
blessed  for  slaughtering  bulls  or  oxen."  And  he, 
again  replying,  says  :  "  I  trust  in  my  Lord  that  the 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA  141 

steel  which  I  have  blessed  will  harm  neither  man 
nor  beast."  And  this  word  of  the  Saint  was  very 
strongly  confirmed  in  the  same  hour ;  for  the 
same  Brother,  going  outside  the  enclosure  of  the 
monastery  with  the  intention  of  slaughtering  an  ox, 
made  three  determined  efforts  and  pressed  with 
all  his  might,  and  yet  could  not  even  pierce  its 
skin.  And  when  the  monks  witnessed  this,  they 
melted  the  metal  of  that  dirk  by  heat  of  fire,  and 
spread  the  molten  metal  over  all  the  cutlery  of 
the  monastery  ;  nor  afterwards  could  it  wound  any 
flesh,  the  effect  of  that  blessing  of  the  Saint  re- 
maining upon  it. 

NOTES 

Molua 

The  simple  form  of  this  Brother's  name  was  Lua. 
The  prefix  mo  is  the  particle  of  affection,  "my". 
Colgan,  in  the  "Acta  Sanctorum",  thinks  that  this  is 
the  Molua  whose  Day  is  June  4th  in  the  Calendar, 
"Molua,  son  of  Sinill,  of  the  race  of  Briuin." 

Enclosure  of  the  monastery 
"  Vallum  "  :  the  rath  or  cashel  (wall). 

They  spread  the  molten  metal 

Dr.  Fowler  thinks  that  if  the  knife  blade  could  be 
melted  so  that  others  could  be  coated  with  the  metal  it 
must  have  been  of  bronze,  though  called  "  ferrum  "  in 
the  sense  of  blade,  and  that  they  would  hardly  be  able 
to  liquefy  iron,  though  they  might  liquefy  bronze  as  was 
done  for  the  coating  of  sheet-iron  bells.  It  seems  prob- 
able, however,  that  the  knowledge  and  skill  of  the  Irish 
metal  workers  of  Columba's  time  was  equal  to  the  fusion 
of  iron.  No  reference  to  tempering  processes  is  here 
intended  by  the  use  of  the  word  steel. 


142         LIFE    OF    SAINT    COLUMBA 


XXX 

OF  DIORMIT'S  CURE   FROM   SICKNESS. 

At  another  time,  Diormit,  the  Saint's  faithful 
attendant,  was  sick  even  unto  death,  and  the 
Saint  came  to  visit  him  when  he  was  at  the  last 
extremity,  and,  standing  at  the  sick  man's  bed  and 
praying  for  him,  and  invoking  the  Name  of  Christ, 
he  said  :  "  Be  kind  to  me,  I  pray  thee,  O  my  Lord, 
and  take  not  the  soul  of  my  faithful  attendant  from 
its  dwelling  in  the  flesh  while  I  yet  survive."  And 
this  said,  he  was  silent  for  a  short  time.  Then,  next, 
with  his  sacred  lips  he  utters  this  saying:  "This 
my  servant  will  not  only  not  die  now  this  time,  but 
will  also  live  for  many  years  after  my  own  death." 
And  this  prayer  of  his  was  heard,  for  Diormit, 
immediately  after  the  acceptable  prayer  of  the 
Saint,  recovered  his  full  health,  and  also  lived  on 
for  many  years  after  the  Saint's  passing  away  to 
the  Lord. 

XXXI 

OF  THE   HEALING   OF   FINTAN,   SON   OF  AEDH, 
WHEN   AT   THE   POINT   OF   DEATH. 

Again,  at  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was 
making  a  journey  beyond  the  Dorsal  Ridge  of 
Britain  [Drum  Alban,  the  Grampians],  a  certain 
youth  named  Fintan,  one  of  his  companions,  seized 
by  sudden  illness,  was  brought  to  the  last  ex- 
tremity ;  and  his  sorrowing  comrades  beseech  the 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA         143 

Saint  to  pray  for  him.  And  he  at  once  took  com- 
passion on  them,  and  spread  forth  his  holy  hands 
to  heaven  with  earnest  prayer,  and  blessing  the 
sick  man,  says  :  "  This  youth  for  whom  you  inter- 
cede will  enjoy  a  long  life,  and  after  the  death  of 
all  of  us  who  are  here  present,  will  survive  and 
die  in  a  good  old  age."  This  prophecy  of  the 
blessed  man  was  completely  fulfilled  in  all  particu- 
lars, for  the  same  youth  afterwards  was  founder  of 
that  monastery  which  is  called  Kailli-au-inde,  and 
ended  this  present  life  in  a  good  old  age. 

NOTE 
Fintan  .  .  .  afterwards  founder  of  Kailli-au-inde 
There  are  twenty-one  Fintans  in  the  Irish  Calendar, 
and  this  one  does  not  seem  to  be  among  them.  Dr. 
Reeves  thinks  that,  having  joined  the  fraternity  of  Iona 
early  in  life,  his  history  belongs  to  the  North  British 
Church.  His  monastery  of  Kailli-au-inde  has  not  been 
identified.  Its  situation  must  probably  be  sought  in 
Scotland,  perhaps  at  Bendothy,  in  Perthshire,  where,  at 
a  place  called  Cally,  was  a  burial  ground  and  a  chapel 
named  from  St.  Fink. 


XXXII 

CONCERNING  A  EOY  WHOM  THE  VENERABLE 
MAN  RAISED  FROM  THE  DEAD  IN  THE 
NAME  OF  THE  LORD  CHRIST. 

At  that  time,  when  Saint  Columba  was  sojourning 
for  some  days  in  the  province  of  the  Picts,  a  certain 
countryman,  with  all  his  household,  hearing  the  word 
of  life  through  an  interpreter  when  the  holy  man 
preached,  believed,  and,  believing,  was  baptized,  the 


144         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

husband,  with  his  wife  and  children  and  servants. 
And  after  some  little  interval  of  a  few  days  one  of 
the  sons  of  the  father  of  the  family  was  attacked 
by  severe  illness,  and  brought  even  to  the  confines 
of  life  and  death.  And  when  the  Magi  [Druids] 
saw  him  dying,  they  began  to  rail  at  the  parents 
with  great  abuse,  and  to  exalt  their  own  gods  as 
the  stronger,  but  to  disparage  the  God  of  the 
Christians  as  weaker.  And  when  all  these  things 
were  reported  to  the  blessed  man,  he  is  stirred  up 
with  zeal  for  God  and  proceeds  with  his  companions 
to  the  house  of  his  friend  the  countryman,  where  the 
parents  were  celebrating  the  sad  obsequies  of  their 
child,  by  this  time  dead.  And  the"  Saint,  seeing 
them  greatly  saddened,  encouraging  them,  urges 
them  in  consoling  words  by  no  means  to  distrust 
the  Divine  omnipotence.  And  he  then  makes 
inquiry,  saying  :  "  In  what  room  lies  the  body  of 
the  dead  boy  ? "  The  bereaved  father  then  leads 
the  Saint  under  his  roof  of  mourning,  and  he, 
leaving  the  whole  crowd  outside,  immediately 
enters  the  house  of  woe  alone  ;  where  forthwith, 
on  bended  knees,  his  face  bathed  with  copious 
tears,  he  prays  to  Christ  the  Lord,  and  rising  from 
his  knees  turns  his  eyes  to  the  dead  one,  saying : 
"  In  the  Name  of  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ,  arise  and 
stand  upon  thy  feet."  At  this  glorious  word  of  the 
Saint  the  soul  returned  to  the  body,  and  the  dead 
boy  revived  and  opened  his  eyes,  and  the  apostolic 
man,  holding  his  hand,  raised  him  up,  and,  steady- 
ing him  on  his  feet,  led  him  with  him  out  of  the 
house    and    restored    him    alive    to   his    parents. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         145 

Then  the  shouting  of  the  people  arises  on  high  ; 
weeping  is  turned  into  rejoicing ;  the  God  of  the 
Christians  is  glorified. 

Let  our  Columba,  then,  share  this  miracle  of 
might  in  common  with  Elias  and  Eliseus,  the 
prophets,  and  have  equal  honour  with  the  apostles 
Peter  and  Paul  and  John  in  the  raising  up  of  the 
dead.  And  among  both  companies,  that  is  of 
prophets  and  apostles,  may  the  prophetic  and 
apostolic  man  have  in  the  Heavenly  Country  an 
honourable  and  eternal'  throne  with  Christ,  who 
reigneth  with  the  Father,  in  the  Unity  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  for  ever  and  ever. 

NOTE 

Through  an  interpreter 

The  mission  of  St.  Columba  seems  to  have  been 
undertaken  before  he  had  learned  the  Pictish  language 
sufficiently  well  to  be  able  to  preach  in  it.  And  it  was 
so  also  in  the  case  of  Artbranan,  narrated  in  chapter 
xxxiii.  of  the  First  Book.  The  following  stanza  from  the 
"  Amhra  of  Columb-kille "  tells  of  his  labours  among 
the  nations  of  Britain  : 

The  people  of  Alba  to  the  Ictian  Sea,  [the  English  Channel] 
The  Gaedhill,  Cruithneans,  Saxons,  Saxo-Brits, 
Best  of  men  was  the  man  who  went  to  them ; 
Thirty  years  did  he  preach  to  them. 


146         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XXXIII 

CONCERNING  BROICHAN,  THE  DRUID,  HIS  SICK- 
NESS ON  ACCOUNT  OF  THE  DETENTION  OF 
A  MAIDSERVANT  AND  HIS  CURE  UPON  HER 
LIBERATION. 

At  the  same  time  the  venerable  man  requested 
of  Broichan,  the  Druid,  the  setting  free,  for  the 
sake  of  humanity,  of  a  certain  Irish  bondmaid  : 
and  when  with  very  hard  and  doltish  obstinacy 
he  retained  her,  the  Saint,  addressing  him,  thus 
speaks  :  "  Know,  Broichan,  know  if  thou  refuse  to 
deliver  to  me  this  captive  stranger  before  I  return 
from  this  province,  thou  wilt  quickly  die." 

And  saying  this  in  the  presence  of  Brude,  the 
king,  and  going  forth  from  the  royal  dwelling,  he 
comes  to  the  river  Ness,  from  which  river  taking 
a  white  pebble,  he  says  to  his  companions  :  "  Note 
well  this  white  stone,  by  which  the  Lord  will  effect 
many  cures  among  this  heathen  people."  And 
having  thus  said,  he  next  added :  "Now  is  Broichan 
severely  smitten  ;  for  an  Angel  sent  from  heaven, 
has  struck  him  severely  and  shattered  into  many 
fragments  the  glass  in  his  hand  from  which  he 
was  drinking,  and  has  left  him  gasping,  feeble, 
sobbing  and  nearly  dead.  Let  us  await  a  little 
while  in  this  place  the  two  messengers  of  the  king 
sent  to  us,  that  we  may  quickly  come  to  the  help 
of  the  dying  Broichan.  Now  Broichan,  terribly 
punished,  is  ready  to  set  the  little  maid  free." 

Whilst  the  Saint  was  yet  speaking  these  words, 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         147 

behold,  as  he  had  foretold,  two  horsemen  sent  by 
the  king  arrive  and  relate  all  things  which  have 
happened  to  Broichan  in  the  king's  fortress,  ac- 
cording to  the  Saint's  prophecy,  both  as  to  the 
breaking  of  the  cup  and  the  punishment  of  the 
Druid  and  his  readiness  to  set  free  the  slave, 
and  they  added  this,  saying  :  "  The  king  and  his 
household  have  sent  us  to  thee  that  thou  mayest 
come  to  the  assistance  of  Broichan,  his  foster- 
father,  who  is  at  the  point  of  death."  When  these 
words  of  the  messengers  were  heard,  the  Saint 
sends  two  of  the  band  of  his  companions  to  the 
king  with  the  stone  blessed  by  him,  saying  :  "  If 
first  Broichan  will  promise  to  set  free  the  girl,  then 
let  this  little  stone  be  dipped  in  water  and  so  let 
him  drink  of  it,  and  he  shall  at  once  recover 
health  ;  but  if  he  refuses  and  opposes  the  freeing 
of  the  slave  girl,  he  will  immediately  die." 

The  two  who  were  sent,  obeying  the  Saint's 
word,  come  to  the  royal  hall  and  tell  to  the  king 
the  words  of  the  venerable  man.  And  when  they 
were  made  known  to  the  king,  and  to  Broichan 
his  foster-father,  they  greatly  feared  ;  and  in  the 
same  hour  the  girl  is  set  free  and  delivered  to 
the  messengers  of  the  holy  man  ;  the  pebble 
is  dipped  in  water,  and  in  a  wonderful  manner, 
contrary  to  its  nature,  the  stone  floats  on  the  water 
like  an  apple  or  a  nut ;  nor  could  the  object 
blessed  by  the  holy  man  be  sunk.  And  Broichan, 
drinking  from  this  floating  stone,  returned  at  once 
from  imminent  death  and  recovered  perfect  health 
of  body.     This  remarkable  stone,  afterwards  pre- 


148         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

served  among  the  king's  treasures,  swimming  in 
the  same  way  in  the  water  in  which  it  was  dipped, 
effected,  through  God's  mercy,  many  cures  of  sick- 
nesses among  the  people. 

Wonderful  to  relate,  this  same  stone,  when  re- 
quired by  these  sick  persons,  when  the  end  of  their 
life  was  at  hand,  could  never  be  found.  Thus 
also  it  was  sought  for  on  the  day  of  the  death  of 
King  Brude,  and  it  was  not  to  be  found  in  the 
same  place  where  it  had  before  been  put  away. 

NOTES 
Broichan,  the  Druid 
The  name  is  British. 

The  royal  dwelling 
King  Brude's  fortified  seat  was  at  the  north-east  end 
of  Loch  Ness,  at  or  near  the  modern  Inverness,  probably 
on  the  ridge  called  Torvean. 

The  day  of  the  death  of  King  Brude 
King  Brude  died  in  583. 


XXXIV 

CONCERNING  THE  BLESSED  MAN'S  OPPOSITION 
TO  BROICHAN,  THE  DRUID,  AND  THE  CON- 
TRARIETY OF  THE  WIND. 

After  the  above-mentioned  events,  Broichan, 
speaking  one  day  to  the  holy  man,  says  :  "  Tell 
me,  Columba,  at  what  time  dost  thou  propose  to 
sail  forth  ? "  "  On  the  third  day,"  says  the  Saint, 
"  God  willing  and  life  remaining,  we  propose  to 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         149 

begin  our  voyage."  "  Thou  wilt  not  be  able  to  do 
so,"  says  Broichan  in  reply,  "for  I  can  make  the 
wind  contrary  for  thee,  and  bring  dark  clouds  upon 
thee."  The  Saint  says  :  "  The  omnipotence  of  God 
rules  over  all  things,  in  whose  name  all  our  move- 
ments, He  Himself  governing  them,  are  directed." 
What  more  need  be  said  ?  On  the  same  day  as  he 
had  purposed  in  his  heart  the  Saint  came  to  the 
long  lake  of  the  river  Ness,  a  great  crowd  following. 
But  the  Druids  then  began  to  rejoice  when  they 
saw  a  great  darkness  coming  over,  and  a  contrary 
wind  with  a  tempest.  Nor  should  it  be  wondered 
at  that  these  things  can  be  done  by  the  art  of 
demons,  God  permitting  it,  so  that  even  winds  and 
waters  are  roused  to  fury. 

For  it  was  thus  that  legions  of  devils  once  met 
the  holy  bishop  Germanus  in  mid-ocean,  what  time 
he  was  sailing  from  the  Gallican  Gulf  [the  British 
Channel]  to  Britain  in  the  cause  of  man's  salvation, 
and  stirred  up  dangerous  storms  and  spread  dark- 
ness over  the  sky  and  obscured  daylight.  All  which 
storms,  however,  were  stilled  at  the  prayer  of  St. 
Germanus,  and,  quicker  than  said,  ceased,  and  the 
darkness  was  swept  away. 

Our  Columba,  therefore,  seeing  the  furious  ele- 
ments stirred  up  against  him,  calls  upon  Christ  the 
Lord,  and  entering  the  boat  while  the  sailors  are 
hesitating,  he,  with  all  the  more  confidence,  orders 
the  sail  to  be  rigged  against  the  wind.  Which 
being  done,  the  whole  crowd  looking  on  mean- 
while, the  boat  is  borne  along  against  the  contrary 
winds  with  amazing  velocity.     And  after  no  great 


ISO         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

interval,  the  adverse  winds  veer  round  to  the 
advantage  of  the  voyage  amid  the  astonishment 
of  all.  And  thus,  throughout  that  whole  day,  the 
blessed  man's  boat  was  driven  along  by  gentle 
favouring  breezes,  and  reached  the  desired  haven. 
Let  the  reader,  therefore,  consider  how  great  and 
saintly  was  that  venerable  man  through  whom 
Almighty  God  manifested  His  glorious  Name  by 
such  miraculous  powers  as  have  just  been  de- 
scribed in  the  presence  of  a  heathen  people. 

NOTES 
The  holy  bishop  Germanns  sailing  from  the  Galilean 

Gulf 
St.  Germanus,  Bishop  of  Auxerre,  visited  Britain  in 
429  and  448.  The  incident  of  the  storm  here  mentioned 
is  given  in  the  "Life  of  St.  Germanus"  by  Constantius,  a 
priest  of  Lyons  contemporary  with  the  Saint.  The 
"  Gallican  Gulf"  is  the  British  Channel. 

The  desired  haven 
The  southern  end  of  Loch  Ness,  where  now  stands 
St.  Benedict's  Abbey,  Fort  Augustus. 

XXXV 

CONCERNING  THE  SPONTANEOUS  AND  SUDDEN 
OPENING  OF  THE  GATE  OF  THE  ROYAL 
FORTRESS. 

At  another  time,  that  is  at  the  time  when  the 
Saint  was  weary  from  his  first  journey  to  King 
Brude,  it  so  happened  that  that  king,  elated  by 
royal  pride  in  his  fortress,  acting  haughtily,  did  not 
open  the  gates  at  the  blessed  man's  first  arrival. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         151 

And  when  the  man  of  God  knew  this,  he  came  with 
his  companions  to  the  wickets  of  the  portals,  and  first 
traced  on  them  the  Sign  of  the  Lord's  Cross  and 
then  knocking,  he  lays  his  hand  against  the  doors, 
and  immediately  the  bolts  are  violently  shot  back, 
the  doors  open  in  all  haste  of  their  own  accord, 
and  being  thus  opened  the  Saint  thereupon  enters 
with  his  companions.  Upon  this  being  known  the 
king  with  his  council  is  greatly  affrighted,  and 
issues  forth  from  his  house  to  meet  the  blessed 
man  with  all  reverence,'  and  addresses  him  gently 
with  conciliatory  words.  And  from  that  day  forth 
this  ruler  honoured  the  holy  and  venerable  man 
with  very  great  honour  all  the  remaining  days  of 
his  life  ;  as  was  proper. 

NOTE 
Pride  in  his  fortress 
As   stated  in   the   note   to   chapter  xxxiii.,   this  was 
probably  the  fortified  ridge  of  Torvean,  near  Inverness. 
Three  ancient  sites  close  to  Inverness  have  been  proposed 
as  the  site  of  Brude's  fortified  seat.     Dr.   Reeves  is  in 
favour  of  the  vitrified  hill  fort  of  Craig  Phadrick,  now  in 
the  midst  of  a  plantation  two  miles  west  of  Inverness 
and  the  river  Ness.     Dr.  Skene  (in  "Celtic  Scotland," 
ed.   1887)  thinks  that  it  was  unlikely  that  in  the  sixth 
century  the  royal  palace  should  have  been  in  a  vitrified 
fort  on  the  top  of  a  rocky  hill  nearly  500  feet  high,  and 
that  it  is  certainly  inconsistent  with  the  narrative  that 
St.  Columba  should  have  had  to  ascend  such  an  eminence 
to  reach  it.     "There is,  however,"  continues  Dr.  Skene, 
"about  a   mile   south-west   of   Inverness  (and   on   the 
west  bank  of  the  river),  a  gravelly  ridge  called  Torvean. 
Part  of  this  ridge  is  encircled  with  ditches  and  ramparts, 
as  if  it  had  formed  an  ancient  hill  fort,  and  at  its  base 
(along  which  the  Caledonian  Canal  has  been  carried)  a 


152         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

massive  silver  chain,  weighing  104  ozs.  and  18  inches 
long,  was  discovered  in  the  year  1808."  This  high 
gravelly  ridge  is  called  Tor-a'-Bhean  in  the  "New  Statis- 
tical Account  of  Scotland,  1845,"  from  its  containing 
the  cairn,  or  sepulchre  according  to  some,  of  an  early 
monk  called  Bean,  or  Benjamin,  but  more  likely  of 
Donald  Bane,  a  Hebridean  chief,  who,  in  1187,  en- 
countered a  party  from  the  castle  of  Inverness,  headed 
by  Duncan  Mackintosh,  son  of  the  governor,  and  who 
perished  with  Donald  Bane  in  the  fight.  The  silver 
chain  above  referred  to — now  in  the  possession  of  the 
Antiquarian  Society  of  Edinburgh — is  thought  to  have 
been  some  ornament  or  ensign  of  Donald  Bane.  The 
third  site  lies  in  the  town  of  Inverness  on  the  eminence 
called  the  "  Crown,"  where  tradition  places  its  oldest 
castle.  This  is  on  the  eastern  side  of  the  Ness,  and 
Dr.  Skene,  referring  to  it,  says  that  the  only  time  that 
Adamnan  notices  Columba  going  by  land  instead  of 
sailing  down  Loch  Ness,  he  went  on  the  north  side  of 
the  lake,  and  then  he  appears  to  have  crossed  the  river. 


XXXVI 

CONCERNING    A    SIMILAR    UNLOCKING    OF   THE 
CHURCH   OF  THE   FIELD   OF  TWO   RIVERS. 

Again  at  another  time,  the  blessed  man,  while 
staying  for  some  days  in  Ireland,  set  out  to  visit 
the  Brethren  who  were  living  in  the  monastery  of 
the  Field  of  Two  Rivers  at  their  own  request. 
But  by  some  chance  it  happened  that,  when  he 
arrived  at  the  church,  the  keys  of  the  Oratory 
were  not  to  be  found.  But  when  the  Saint  heard 
the  others  inquiring  among  themselves  about  the 
missing  keys  and  the  locked  doors,  he  himself, 
approaching  the  door,  says  :  "  The  Lord  is  able  to 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         153 

open  His  House  for  His  servants,  even  without 
keys."  At  this  saying  the  bolts  were  suddenly 
and  violently  shot  back,  the  gate  opening  of  itself, 
and  the  Saint,  to  the  wonder  of  all,  walks  into  the 
church  before  them  all,  and,  being  hospitably 
received  by  the  Brethren,  is  honoured  and  vener- 
ated by  all. 

NOTE 
The  Church  of  the  Field  of  the  Two  Rivers 

"  Ecclesia  Duorum  Agri-Rivorum."  Tir-da-glas,  now 
Terryglass,  in  Co.  Tipperary.  The  monastery  there 
was  founded  by  Colummac  Crimthan,  a  contemporary 
and  fellow  student  of  St.  Columba  at  St.  Finnian's 
monastery  of  Clonard. 


XXXVII 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  COMMON  BEGGAR  FOR 
WHOM  THE  SAINT  MADE  A  PIKE  FOR 
KILLING    WILD    ANIMALS,    AND    BLESSED    IT. 

At  another  time  there  came  to  the  Saint  a  certain 
very  poor  peasant  who  lived  in  that  district  which 
borders  on  the  shores  of  the  Aporic  Lake  TLochaber]. 
The  blessed  man,  taking  pity  on  this  unhappy 
beggar  man,  who  had  not  wherewithal  to  feed  his 
wife  and  little  ones,  gave  him  such  alms  as  he 
could,  and  says  :  "  My  poor  fellow,  take  a  stake 
from  the  wood  hard  by,  and  bring  it  to  me  quickly." 
The  wretched  man,  obeying,  brought  the  stake  ac- 
cording to  the  Saint's  command,  and  the  Saint 
took  and  sharpened  it  into  a  pike,  and  pointing  it 


154         LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

with  his  own  hand,  he  blessed  it,  and  gave  it  to  that 
poor  man,  saying  :  "  Keep  carefully  this  pike, 
which,  I  believe,  will  be  incapable  of  injuring  either 
man  or  any  cattle,  except  wild  animals  and  also 
fishes  ;  and  so  long  as  thou  hast  this  stake  there 
will  never  be  wanting  in  thy  house  an  abundant 
supply  of  deer's  flesh." 

And  hearing  this  the  unhappy  beggar,  greatly 
rejoicing,  returns  home  and  fixes  the  pike  in  a 
secluded  place  which  the  wild  animals  frequented  ; 
and  when  the  next  night  was  passed,  he  goes  in  the 
early  morning  desirous  of  looking  at  his  pike,  and 
on  it  he  finds  transfixed  a  stag  of  wondrous  size 
impaled  upon  it.  What  more  need  be  said  ?  No 
day  could  pass,  as  has  been  told  us  by  tradition, 
in  which  he  did  not  find  either  stag  or  doe,  or  some 
beast,  fallen  upon  the  pike  he  had  set.  And  his 
whole  house  being  thus  filled  with  game,  he  sold  to 
his  neighbours  what  was  over,  for  which  he  had  no 
room  in  his  house.  But  the  envy  of  the  devil  found 
out  even  this  poor  man  through  his  wife,  as 
was  the  case  with  Adam,  for  she,  like  a  silly  and 
not  a  wise  woman,  spoke  thus  to  her  husband  : 
"  Take  the  pike  out  of  the  ground,  for  if  men,  or 
even  cattle,  should  perish  by  it,  thou  thyself  and  I 
with  our  children  shall  either  be  slain  or  led  away 
captive."  To  this  the  husband  says  :  "It  will  not 
be  so,  for  the  holy  man  told  me  when  he  blessed 
the  stake  that  it  would  never  injure  men  or  even 
cattle."  After  these  words  the  beggar,  yielding  to 
his  wife,  goes  and  takes  the  pike  out  of  the  ground, 
and,  madman  as  he  was,  placed  it  by  the  wall 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         155 

inside  the  house.  And  soon  after,  his  house  dog 
falling  on  it,  died.  And  it  being  dead,  the  wife 
again  says  :  "  One  of  my  children  will  fall  upon 
the  stake  and  perish."  And  on  hearing  this  saying 
of  hers,  the  husband  removes  the  pike  from  the  wall 
and  carries  it  back  to  the  wood,  and  fixes  it  among 
the  thicker  bushes,  where,  as  he  thought,  it  could 
not  be  in  the  way  of  any  animal.  But  returning 
next  day  he  found  that  a  goat  had  fallen  upon  it 
and  perished.  Removing  it  from  there  also,  he 
fixed  it  in  the  river,  which  may  be  called  in  Latin 
Nigra  Dea,  hiding  it  near  the  bank  under  water  ; 
and  revisiting  it  the  next  day  he  found  on  it  a 
salmon  of  wondrous  size,  pierced  and  held  by  it  ; 
and  when  he  lifted  it  from  the  river,  he  was  scarcely 
able  by  himself  to  carry  it  to  his  house.  And  carry- 
ing the  pike  with  him  at  the  same  time  back  from 
the  water,  he  fixed  it  outside  on  the  top  of  the  roof. 
And  a  crow  then  alighting  on  it  was  killed  by  the 
impact.  And  upon  this  the  unhappy  man,  misled 
by  the  advice  of  his  foolish  wife,  removes  the  pike 
from  the  roof,  and,  taking  an  axe,  chopped  it  into 
many  pieces  and  threw  them  into  the  fire.  And 
afterwards,  having  forfeited  this  substantial  relief 
of  his  poverty,  he  again  began  to  beg,  as  he 
deserved.  For  this  relief  from  the  cares  of  poverty 
depended  on  the  oft-mentioned  pike,  endowed  with 
the  holy  man's  blessing,  which,  as  long  as  he  kept 
it,  served  the  purpose  of  traps  and  nets,  and  all 
kinds  of  tackle  for  the  chase,  and  for  fishing.  And 
the  loss  of  it  the  wretched  peasant,  who  for  the 
time  being  had  been  rich,  could  only  deplore,  when 


156         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

too  late,  along  with  the  whole  of  his  little  household, 
all  the  rest  of  the  days  of  their  life. 

NOTE 
The  river  .  .  .  Nigra  Dea 
Irish,  "  Dubh  bandea."    Not  identified;  but  Bandea 
occurs  in  the  Book  of  Armagh  as  the  name  of  a  river  in 
Ireland. 


XXXVIII 

CONCERNING  THE  MILK-SKIN  WHICH  THE  EBB- 
TIDE CARRIED  AWAY  AND  THE  FLOOD-TIDE 
DEPOSITED  AGAIN   IN   ITS  FORMER  PLACE. 

At  another  time  the  blessed  man's  messenger, 
Lugaid  by  name,  surnamed  Lathir,  intending  under 
orders  to  set  sail  for  Ireland,  finding  among  the 
nautical  outfit  of  the  Saint's  boat  a  milk-skin  which 
he  was  searching  for,  put  it  to  soak  in  the  sea, 
heaping  upon  it  stones — and  not  small  ones  ;  and 
coming  to  the  Saint,  he  told  him  what  he  had  done 
with  the  skin.  And  he,  smiling,  says  :  "  The  skin 
which,  as  thou  sayest,  thou  didst  place  under  the 
water,  it  will  not  accompany  thee  this  time  to 
Ireland,  I  think."  "Why?"  says  he.  "Shall  I  not 
be  able  to  have  it  with  me  in  the  ship  ? "  "  Another 
day",  says  the  Saint,  "thou  shalt  know  what  the 
event  will  prove."  Early  on  the  following  day, 
therefore,  Lugaid  goes  to  take  the  skin  out  of  the 
sea.  The  ebb-tide,  however,  had  carried  it  away  in 
the  night.  And  not  finding  it  he  returned,  sad,  to 
the  Saint,  and  kneeling  on  the  ground  confessed 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         157 

his  carelessness.  And  the  Saint,  consoling  him,  says : 
"Do  not  grieve,  brother,  for  perishable  things ;  the 
skin  which  the  ebb-tide  has  carried  away  the  flood- 
tide  will  carry  back  to  its  place  after  thy  departure." 
On  the  same  day  after  the  departure  of  Lugaid  from 
Iona,  after  the  ninth  hour  [3  p.m.],  the  Saint,  ad- 
dressing those  standing  around,  thus  says  :  "  Now 
let  one  of  you  go  to  the  sea  ;  the  skin  for  which 
Lugaid  lamented,  and  which  the  ebb-tide  carried 
away,  the  flood-tide  has  now  brought  back  and 
replaced  in  the  spot  whence  it  was  taken." 

And  hearing  the  word  of  the  Saint,  a  certain 
active  youth  ran  down  to  the  seashore,  and,  having 
found  the  skin  as  the  Saint  had  predicted,  carried 
it  quickly  back,  running  at  full  speed,  and  greatly 
rejoicing,  laid  it  down  before  the  Saint,  amid  the 
admiration  of  all  who  were  there.  In  these  two 
narratives  above  written,  although  they  deal  with 
small  matters,  namely,  a  stake  and  a  milk-skin, 
there  are  seen  to  go  hand-in-hand,  as  has  often 
been  said,  the  gift  of  prophecy  and  the  power  of 
miracles. 

Now  let  us  proceed  to  other  things. 

NOTES 

Lugaid,  surnamed  Lathir 
i.e.  the  brave. 

Milk- skin 
"  Uter  lactarium  "  :   either  a  whole  skin  like  a  wine 
skin,  or  a  leather  bottle,   "  Pait,"  in  Irish,  such  as  is 
mentioned  in  the  ancient  tale  of  the  "Navigation  of 
Maelduin's  Boat." 


158         LIFE    OF    SAINT    COLUMBA 


XXXIX 

THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  SAINT  CONCERNING 
LIBRAN   "OF   THE   RUSH   FIELD." 

At  another  time,  when  the  holy  man  was  sojourn- 
ing in  Iona,  a  certain  man  of  the  people,  who  had 
lately  assumed  the  clerical  habit,  sailing  over  from 
Ireland,  came  to  the  island  monastery  of  the  blessed 
man.  And  one  day,  when  the  Saint  found  him 
sitting  alone  in  the  guest-house,  after  being  first 
questioned  by  the  Saint  as  to  his  country,  his 
family,  and  the  cause  of  his  journey,  he  stated  that 
he  was  born  in  the  county  of  the  men  of  Con- 
naught,  and  had  wearied  himself  by  a  long  journey 
in  pilgrimage  to  atone  for  his  sins.  And  when 
the  Saint,  to  test  the  nature  of  his  penitence,  set 
before  his  eyes  the  hard  and  laborious  regulations 
of  the  monastery,  he  thereupon  answering  the 
Saint,  says  :  "I  am  ready  to  do  all  things,  what- 
ever thou  wishest  to  command  me,  however  hard, 
however  humiliating."  What  more  need  be  said  ? 
In  the  same  hour  he  confessed  all  his  sins,  and 
promised,  kneeling  on  the  ground,  to  fulfil  the  laws 
of  penance.  And  the  Saint  says  to  him  :  "  Rise  up, 
and  be  seated."  Then,  when  he  was  seated,  he  thus 
addressed  him  :  "  Seven  years'  penance  must  thou 
do  in  the  Ethican  land  [Tiree].  I  and  thou,  by 
God's  grace,  are  to  live  until  thou  completest  the 
number  of  seven  years." 

Comforted  by  these  words  of  the  Saint,  and 
giving  thanks  to  God,  he  says  to  the  Saint :  "What 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         159 

ought  I  to  do  as  to  a  certain  false  oath  of  mine  ? 
For  while  in  my  native  land  I  slew  a  certain  poor 
fellow,  after  whose  slaying  I  was  detained  in  chains 
as  guilty.  But  a  certain  man  of  my  kindred,  of 
the  same  parentage,  very  wealthy,  coming  forward 
opportunely,  freed  me  from  the  chains  which  bound 
me  and  rescued  me  when  I  was  under  sentence  of 
death.  And  to  him  after  my  release  I  promised 
with  rigorous  oath  that  I  would  serve  him  all  the 
days  of  my  life.  But  after  a  few  days  passed 
in  servitude,  disdaining-  to  serve  man  and  wishing 
rather  to  obey  God,  I  became  a  deserter  from  that 
earthly  lord,  and  broke  my  oath  and  fled,  and 
I  have  come  to  thee,  the  Lord  prospering  my 
journey."  To  these  words  the  Saint,  seeing  the 
man  greatly  distressed  about  such  things,  first 
prophesying  as  before,  addresses  him  saying : 
"  After  the  completion  of  seven  years,  as  has  been 
told  thee,  thou  shalt  come  hither  to  me  during 
Lent,  so  that  thou  mayest  approach  the  altar  at  the 
Paschal  festival  and  receive  the  Eucharist.5' 

Why  linger  with  words  ?  The  penitent  pilgrim 
obeys  in  all  things  the  holy  man's  commands. 
And  having  been  sent  in  those  days  to  the 
monastery  of  the  Plain  of  Lunge  (in  Tiree),  there 
having  fully  completed  his  seven  years'  penance, 
he  returns  to  the  Saint  according  to  his  former 
prophetic  command,  in  the  days  of  Lent.  And 
after  the  observance  of  the  Paschal  solemnity  was 
over,  in  which,  as  bidden,  he  approached  the  altar, 
he  came  to  the  Saint  asking  him  about  his  above- 
mentioned  oath.     And  to  his  question  the  Saint, 


i6o        LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

prophesying,  replies  :  "  Thy  earthly  lord,  of  whom 
thou  once  didst  speak  to  me,  still  lives,  and  thy 
father,  and  mother,  and  brethren  still  live.     Now, 
therefore,   thou   shouldest    prepare   thyself   for   a 
voyage."      And,   so   speaking,   he   offered  him  a 
sword  ornamented   with  carved  tusks  of  beasts, 
saying  :  "  Accept  this  gift  to  take  with  thee,  which 
thou  wilt  offer  to  thy  master  for  thy  ransom.     But 
yet  he  will  by  no  means  accept  it,  for  he  has  a 
well-disposed  wife,  and  deferring  to  her  wholesome 
advice  he  will  grant  thee  thy  liberty  on  the  same 
day,  free,  without  price,  loosing  from  thy  loins, 
according  to  custom,  the  bond  man's  girdle.     But 
though  thus  relieved  from  this  anxiety,  thou  shalt 
not  escape  another  care  springing  up  at  thy  side  ; 
for  thy  brethren  will  press  thee  on  every  side  to 
furnish   the    support    so   long   due   to   thy  father, 
and  neglected.    But  thou,  obeying  their  wish  with- 
out  any  hesitation,    receive    thy   old    father    and 
dutifully  cherish  him.     And  this  burden,  though  it 
may  seem  heavy  to  thee,  thou  must  not  grieve 
over,  because  thou  shalt  soon  put  it  off;  for  on  the 
very  day  thou  shalt  begin  to  wait  on  thy  father,  on 
that  day  week  at  the  end  of  the  same  week,  he 
will  die  and  thou  wilt  bury  him.     But,  after  thy 
father's   burial,    again    will    thy    brethren    angrily 
compel  thee  to  render  also  the  offices  of  piety  due 
to  thy  mother.    From  which  obligation  thy  younger 
brother  will  free  thee,  being  ready  in  thy  stead  to 
render  dutifully  for  thee  to  thy  mother  every  work 
of  filial  piety  which  thou  dost  owe." 

After  these  words  the  above-mentioned  Brother, 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         161 

Libran  by  name,  having  accepted  the  gift,  set  out, 
enriched  with  the  Saint's  blessing,  and,  coming  to 
his  native  country,  he  found  all  things  turn  out 
true  according  to  the  Saint's  prophecy.  For  as 
soon  as  he  showed  and  offered  the  price  of  his 
freedom  to  his  master,  the  wife,  opposing  his  wish 
to  accept  it,  says  :  "  Why  should  we  accept  this 
ransom  sent  by  holy  Columba  ?  We  are  not 
worthy  of  this.  Let  him  have  gratis  the  freedom 
of  this  dutiful  servant.  The  blessing  of  the  holy 
man  will  more  profit  us  than  this  ransom  which  is 
offered."  And  so  the  husband,  hearing  this  whole- 
some counsel  of  his  wife,  at  once  set  the  serf  free 
without  ransom.  And  after  that,  according  to  the 
Saint's  prophecy,  being  forced  by  his  brothers  to 
wait  upon  his  father,  he  buried  him  after  his  death 
on  the  seventh  day.  And,  his  father  buried,  he  is 
compelled  to  render  a  son's  duty  to  his  mother. 
But  the  younger  brother  coming  forward,  as  the 
Saint  had  foretold,  takes  his  place,  and  he  is  re- 
leased. And  he — the  younger  brother — thus  said 
to  his  brothers  :  "  It  by  no  means  behoves  us  to 
keep  our  brother  at  home,  he  who  for  seven  years 
has  worked  out  the  salvation  of  his  soul  with  St. 
Columba  in  Britain." 

After  which,  freed  from  all  his  trouble  and 
bidding  farewell  to  his  mother  and  brethren,  he 
returned,  a  free  man,  to  the  place  which  is  called 
in  Irish,  Daire  Calgaich  (Derry).  And  finding 
there  a  ship  under  sail  setting  out  from  the 
harbour,  calling  out  from  the  shore  he  begs 
that  the  sailors  would  take  him  with  them  to 
M 


i62         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

sail   into   Britain.      But   they   refused    to    receive 
him  because  they  did  not  belong  to  the  monks 
of   St.    Columba.     Then,    next,    speaking   to   that 
venerable   man,  far   distant   though   he   was,  but 
present  in  spirit,  as  the  event  soon  proved  :  "Doth 
it  please  thee,  holy  Columba,"  he  says,  "  that  these 
sailors  who   do  not   receive  me,  thy  companion, 
shall  sail  forth  with  full  sails  and  favouring  winds  ?  " 
At  this  word  the  wind,  which  was  favourable  for 
them   before,    quicker  than  words,  veered   round 
against  them.     Meanwhile,  seeing  the  same  man 
running  over  against  them  along  the  bank  of  the 
river,  hastily  taking   counsel   among   themselves, 
the  sailors  calling  out  from  the  ship,  say  to  him  : 
"  Perhaps  the  wind  has  suddenly  changed  against 
us,  because  we  refused  to  take  thee.     But  if  even 
now  we  were  to  invite  thee  aboard  the  ship  with 
us  couldst  thou  now  change  the  wind  into  a  favour- 
able  one?"     Hearing   this,  the  wayfarer  said  to 
them  :  "  St.  Columba,  to  whom  I  am  going,  and 
whom  I   have  served  until  now  for  seven  years, 
can  obtain  a  fair  wind  for  you  from  his  Lord  by 
the   power  of  his  prayers  if  you  will  take  me." 
And  hearing  this,  they  bring  the  ship  near  the 
shore  and  invite  him  into  it  with  them.     And  he, 
straightway   boarding    the   ship,    says :    "In    the 
name  of  the  Almighty,  Whom  St.  Columba  blame- 
lessly  serves,   tighten   the  ropes    and   hoist   your 
sail."     Which   being   done,    the   contrary   breezes 
are  at  once  turned  into  favourable  ones,  and,  under 
full  press  of  sail,  a  prosperous  voyage  to  Britain 
ensued. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         163 

And  Libran,  after  they  had  come  to  British 
shores,  leaving  that  ship  and  blessing  the  sailors, 
came  to  St.  Columba,  where  he  was  staying  in 
Iona.  And  the  blessed  man  received  him  joyfully, 
and  told  him  in  detail,  without  any  other  infor- 
mant, all  things  that  had  occurred  during  the 
journey,  both  as  to  his  master  and  the  wholesome 
advice  of  his  wife,  and  how  he  was  liberated  at 
her  pleading  ;  as  to  his  brothers  also  ;  the  death 
of  his  father  and  his  burial  at  the  end  of  the 
week  ;  as  to  his  mother  and  the  opportune  succour 
from  his  younger  brother  ;  about  those  things 
which  happened  when  he  was  returning ;  the 
contrary  wind  and  the  favourable  one  ;  the  words 
of  the  sailors  who  at  first  refused  to  take  him  ;  the 
promise  of  the  favourable  breeze,  and  the  favour- 
able change  of  wind  when  he  was  taken  into  the 
ship.  What  more  need  be  said?  All  the  things 
which  the  Saint  prophesied  should  be  fulfilled  he 
related  as  they  had  happened.  After  these  words  the 
traveller  laid  down  the  price  of  his  ransom,  which 
he  had  received  from  the  Saint.  And  to  him  in  the 
same  hour  the  Saint  assigned  a  name,  saying  : 
"  Thou  shalt  be  called  Libran,  because  thou  art 
free  {liber)"  And  this  same  Libran  in  those  days 
fervently  took  the  monastic  vow. 

And  when  he  was  being  sent  back  by  the  holy 
man  to  the  monastery  in  which  he  previously  as  a 
penitent  served  the  Lord  for  seven  years,  he  got 
from  him,  when  he  bid  him  farewell,  these  prophetic 
words  concerning  himself  :  "  Thou  shalt  live  a  long 
life,  and  shalt  end  this  present  life  in  a  good  old 


1 64         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

age.  Yet,  however,  thou  shalt  rise  again,  not  in 
Britain,  but  in  Ireland."  Hearing  which  saying  he 
wept  bitterly  on  bended  knees.  And  the  Saint, 
seeing  him  very  sorrowful,  began  to  console  him, 
saying  :  "  Rise  up,  and  be  not  sorrowful.  Thou 
shalt  die  in  one  of  my  own  monasteries  ;  and  with 
my  chosen  monks  shall  thy  part  be  in  the  Kingdom ; 
and  with  them  shalt  thou  awake  from  the  sleep  of 
death  to  the  resurrection  of  life."  And,  receiving 
from  the  Saint  no  small  consolation,  he  greatly 
rejoiced,  and,  enriched  with  the  Saint's  blessing, 
went  his  way  in  peace.  And  this  true  prophecy 
of  the  Saint  as  to  this  man  was  afterwards  fulfilled. 
For  when  he  had  obediently  served  the  Lord 
in  the  monastery  of  the  Plain  of  Lunge  [in  Tiree] 
for  the  round  of  many  years  after  the  passing 
of  St.  Columba  from  the  world,  this  monk,  then 
very  old,  was  sent  to  Ireland  on  some  monastic 
business,  and  as  soon  as  he  alighted  from  the 
ship,  going  through  the  Plain  of  Breg  [in  Meath],  he 
came  to  the  monastery  of  the  Oak  Plain  [Durrow]  ; 
and  there,  being  received  into  the  guest-house  as  a 
guest,  he  contracted  some  illness,  and  on  the  seventh 
day  of  his  sickness  he  departed  in  peace  to  the 
Lord,  and  was  buried  among  the  chosen  monks 
of  St.  Columba,  there,  according  to  his  prophecy, 
to  rise  again  to  eternal  life. 

Let  it  suffice  to  have  written  these  true  pro- 
phecies of  St.  Columba  concerning  Libran  "of 
the  Rush  Field."  Which  same  Libran  was  called 
"of  the  Rush  Field"  because  for  many  years  he 
had  worked  in  a  rushfield,  gathering  rushes. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         165 

NOTES 
Set  me  free  from  the  chains 
"Absolvit"  by  paying  the  fine,  eric  or  blod-wite,  to 
the  nearest  of  kin  of  the  slain  man. 

Running  along  the  bank  of  the  river 
The  Feabhal,  or  Foyle,  on  which  Derry  stands. 

Sword  ornamented  with  carved  tusks  of  beasts 
Solinus,  in  "Polyhistor"  xxiii. ,  speaking  of  the  Irish  and 
their  love  for  shining  weapons,  says  :  "  They  decorate  the 
handles  of  their  swords  with  the  teeth  of  marine  animals, 
for  they  shine  like  ivory,  and  the  warriors  make  their 
chief  boast  in  the  brilliance  of  their  weapons."  Solinus 
wrote  in  the  first  part  of  the  third  century  :  his  friend 
Adventus,  to  whom  he  dedicated  his  book,  was  consul  in 

A.D.  2l8. 

Thou  shall  die  in  one  of  my  own  monasteries 
Durrow,  which  is  the  monastery  here  referred  to,  and 
Iona  were  the  two  parent  houses  of  St.  Columba's 
Order.  He  also  founded  in  Ireland,  Derry,  Kells, 
Kilmore-dithreabh,  Swords,  Rechra  and  Drumcliff. 
All  these  were  included  in  the  familia  Cohwibcs-kille, 
and  owned  St.  Columba  as  their  common  head. 


XL 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  WOMAN  WHO  AS  A 
DAUGHTER  OF  EVE  SUFFERED  GREAT  AND 
VERY  HARD   THROES   OF   .CHILDBIRTH. 

One  day,  the  Saint  then  dwelling  in  Iona,  rises 
from  his  reading,  and  smiling,  says :  "  Now  I  must 
hasten  to  the  Oratory,  that  I  may  pray  to  the  Lord 
for  a  certain  poor  woman  who  is  now  in  Ireland, 
and  is  crying  out,  calling  on   the   name   of  this 


i66         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

Columba,  in  the  throes  of  great  pains  in  a  most 
difficult  childbirth  ;  and  therefore  she  is  hoping 
that  release  from  her  sufferings  will  be  given  her, 
through  me,  by  the  Lord,  because  she  is  akin  to 
me,  her  father  being  sprung  from  my  mother's 
family."  Thus  speaking,  and  moved  by  pity  for 
that  poor  woman,  the  Saint  runs  to  the  church, 
and  on  bended  knees  earnestly  prays  for  her  to 
Christ,  Himself  born  of  mankind.  And  after  his 
prayer,  going  forth  from  the  Oratory,  he  speaks  to 
the  Brethren  whom  he  met,  saying  :  "  Now  is  the 
Lord  Jesus,  the  Son  of  a  woman,  merciful,  op- 
portunely helping  her  who  is  afflicted.  He  has 
delivered  her  from  her  anguish,  and  she  has  safely 
brought  forth  a  child  ;  and  she  will  not  die  this 
time."  In  the  same  hour,  as  the  Saint  prophesied, 
the  poor  woman  calling  on  his  name  was  delivered, 
and  recovered  her  health.  So  was  it  afterwards 
stated  by  certain  persons  who  came  over  from 
Ireland  and  from  the  same  district  where  the 
woman  lived. 

NOTES 

She  is  akin  to  ?ne 

St.  Columba's  mother  was  Eithne,  descended  from 
Cathaeir  Mor,  King  of  Leinster  and  afterwards  of 
Ireland,  in  the  early  part  of  the  second  century. 

The  same  district  where  the  woman  lived 

This  would  probably  be  North  Leinster,  that  having 
been  the  territory  assigned  to  Daire  Barrach,  the 
ancestor  of  Eithne,  St.  Columba's  mother. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         167 


XLI 

CONCERNING  A  CERTAIN  LUGNE,  A  PILOT,  WHO 
WAS  SURNAMED  TUDIDA,  WHOM,  AS  HE  WAS 
DEFORMED,  HIS  WIFE  HATED,  AND  WHO 
LIVED  IN  THE  RECHREAN  ISLAND  [RATHLIN, 
OR   LAMBAY] 

At  another  time,  when  the  holy  man  was  a  guest 
in  the  Rechrean  island,  a  certain  peasant  came  to 
him  and  complained  of  his  wife,  who,  as  he  said,  had 
a  dislike  to  him,  and  would  in  no  wise  allow  him  to 
approach  her.  On  hearing  this,  the  Saint,  calling 
the  wife  to  him,  began  so  far  as  he  could  to  reprove 
her  on  that  account,  saying  :  "  Why,  woman,  dost 
thou  try  to  drive  from  thee  thine  own  flesh,  when 
the  Lord  says  :  'And  they  shall  be  two  in  one 
flesh '  ;  therefore  the  flesh  of  thy  husband  is  thy 
flesh."  And  she,  answering,  says  :  "  All  things 
whatsoever  thou  shalt  command,  however  hard 
they  may  be,  I  am  ready  to  do,  one  thing  excepted, 
that  thou  do  in  no  wise  oblige  me  to  cohabit  with 
Lugne.  I  do  not  refuse  to  do  all  the  housework, 
or,  if  thou  do  so  bid  me,  even  to  cross  the  sea 
and  remain  in  some  monastery  of  maidens."  The 
Saint  then  says  :  "  That  which  thou  sayest  cannot 
rightly  be  done,  for  thou  art  bound  by  the  law  of 
thy  husband  as  long  as  the  man  lives.  For  those 
whom  God  hath  lawfully  joined,  it  is  a  sin  for  them 
to  separate."  And  having  said  this,  he  next  adds  : 
"  This  day  let  us  three,  namely,  I,  and  the  husband, 
with  the  wife,  pray  to  the  Lord  fasting."     She  then 


168         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

says  :  "  I  know  it  will  not  be  impossible  for  thee  to 
obtain  by  prayer  from  God  those  things  which 
seem  difficult  or  even  impossible." 

What  more  need  be  said  ?  The  wife  that  same 
day  agrees  to  fast  with  the  Saint,  and  likewise  the 
husband  :  the  following  night,  the  Saint  goes  sleep- 
less and  prays  for  them,  and  on  the  next  day  the 
Saint,  in  the  husband's  presence,  thus  addresses  the 
wife :  "  O  woman,  art  thou  prepared  to-day,  as 
thou  didst  say  yesterday,  to  go  away  to  a  monastery 
of  women?"  "Now  I  know,"  she  says,  "that  thy 
prayer  to  God  for  me  is  heard,  for  him  whom  I 
hated  yesterday,  I  love  to-day,  for  my  heart  this 
night  past — how  I  know  not— has  been  changed  in 
me  from  hate  to  love."  Why  need  we  linger? 
From  that  day  to  the  day  of  her  death  the  soul  of 
that  wife  was  indissolubly  cemented  in  love  to  her 
husband. 

XLII 

THE  PROPHECY  OF  THE  BLESSED  MAN  REGARD- 
ING THE  VOYAGE  OF  CORMAC,  DESCENDANT 
OF   LETHAN. 

At  another  time  Cormac,  a  soldier  of  Christ 
about  whom  we  have  briefly  recorded  some  few 
matters  in  the  first  book  of  this  little  work 
[chapter  vi.],  made  again  a  second  attempt  to  dis- 
cover a  desert  (island)  in  the  sea.  And  after  he 
had  sailed  from  the  land  over  the  boundless  ocean 
under  full  sail,  St.  Columba,  who  was  staying  in 
those  days  beyond  the  Dorsal  Ridge  of  Britain 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         169 

[the  Grampians],  commended  him  to  King  Brude, 
in  the  presence  of  the  under-king  of  the  Orcades 
[Orkneys],  saying :  "  Some  of  our  people  have 
lately  gone  forth  hoping  to  find  a  solitude  in  the 
pathless  sea,  and  if  perchance  after  long  wander- 
ings they  should  come  to  the  Orcades  islands,  do 
thou  earnestly  commend  them  to  this  under-king, 
whose  hostages  are  in  thy  hand,  that  no  misfortune 
befall  them  within  his  territories.  This  indeed  the 
Saint  thus  said,  because  he  foreknew  in  spirit  that 
after  some  months  the  same  Cormac  was  destined 
to  arrive  at  the  Orcades.  Which  afterwards  so 
happened,  and  on  account  of  the  holy  man's  above- 
mentioned  recommendation,  he  was  delivered  from 
impending  death  in  the  Orcades. 

After  an  interval  of  some  few  months,  while  the 
Saint  was  living  in  Iona,  mention  of  the  same 
Cormac's  name  unexpectedly  arises  one  day  in 
his  presence  in  the  conversation  of  some  people, 
speaking  in  this  wise  :  "  How  Cormac's  voyage  is 
progressing — prosperously  or  not — is  as  yet  un- 
known." And  this  remark  being  heard  by  the 
Saint,  he  speaks  thus,  saying  :  "  You  will  see 
Cormac,  of  whom  you  are  now  talking,  arriving 
here  presently,  to-day."  And  after  the  space  of 
about  one  hour,  wonderful  to  relate,  behold  ! 
Cormac  arrives  unexpectedly,  and  walks  into  the 
Oratory  amid  the  wonder  and  the  thanksgiving 
of  all. 

And  as  we  have  briefly  mentioned  the  prophecy 
of  the  blessed  man  as  to  the  second  voyage  of 
this  Cormac,  we  must  now  also  write  some  descrip- 


i7o         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

tion  of  his  equally  prophetic  knowledge  concerning 
the  third. 

When  this  same  Cormac  was  toiling  over  the 
ocean  waters  for  the  third  time,  he  began  to  be  in 
peril  well-nigh  to  death.  For  when  his  ship  in  full 
sail  during  fourteen  summer  days  and  as  many 
nights,  held  on  a  course  straight  from  the  land, 
before  a  southerly  wind,  towards  the  region  of  the 
north,  his  voyage  seemed  to  go  beyond  the  limit  of 
human  experience,  and  return  impossible.  Whence 
it  happened  that  after  the  tenth  hour  of  the  same 
fourteenth  day  certain  awful  terrors,  almost  too 
great  to  be  borne,  arose  on  every  side  ;  for  certain 
loathsome  and  very  dangerous  creatures,  which  up 
to  that  time,  indeed,  had  never  been  seen,  came 
into  sight,  covering  the  sea  ;  and  with  a  terrible 
rush  they  smote  the  keel  and  sides,  the  stern  and 
prow,  so  heavily  that  it  seemed  as  though  in  the 
end  they  would  break  through  the  leather  sheath- 
ing  of  the  boat.  And,  as  those  who  were  there  after- 
wards related,  they  were  about  the  size  of  frogs,  with 
very  terrible  stings,  and  more  like  swimming  than 
flying  creatures,  and  they  also  swarmed  over  the 
blades  of  the  oars.  And  seeing  these,  among  other 
monsters  of  which  there  is  no  time  at  present  to 
tell,  Cormac  and  the  companions  of  his  voyage, 
are  greatly  troubled  and  terrified,  and  pray  with 
tears  to  God,  Who  is  a  kind  and  timely  Helper 
of  those  in  trouble.  That  same  hour  our  holy 
Columba,  though  far  away  in  body,  yet  was  present 
in  spirit  in  the  ship  with  Cormac.  Wherefore  at 
the  same  moment,  the  bell  is  sounded,  and  calls 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         171 

the  Brethren  to  the  Oratory,  and  entering  the 
church,  speaks,  and  prophesies  in  his  accustomed 
manner,  to  those  standing  round,  saying :  "Brothers, 
pray  with  all  fervour  for  Cormac,  who  now,  by 
voyaging  too  far,  has  ventured  beyond  the  bounds 
of  human  discovery,  and  now  suffers  horrible 
alarms  from  monsters  never  before  seen  and 
almost  indescribable.  We  ought  therefore,  in 
heart,  to  pity  our  fellow-members  and  brethren 
placed  in  intolerable  peril,  and  pray  to  the  Lord 
with  them.  For  behold^  now  Cormac  with  his 
sailors,  his  face  wet  with  many  tears,  earnestly 
prays  to  Christ ;  and  let  us  help  him  by  our 
prayers,  that  He  may  have  mercy  on  us,  and 
change  into  a  north  wind  the  south  wind  that  has 
been  blowing  now  these  fourteen  days,  and  that 
this  north  wind  may  bring  Cormac's  ship  out  of 
danger." 

And  thus  saying,  with  plaintive  voice  and  bended 
knees  before  the  altar  he  prays  the  Omnipotence 
of  God  which  rules  the  winds  and  all  things. 
And  after  his  prayer  he  rises  quickly  and,  wiping 
his  tears,  joyfully  gives  thanks  to  God,  saying : 
"  Now,  Brothers,  let  us  rejoice  with  our  dear  ones 
for  whom  we  pray,  for  the  Lord  will  now  change 
the  south  wind  into  a  north  wind,  which  will  bring 
our  fellow-members  out  of  their  perils  and  will 
bring  them  back  again  to  us."  And  even  as  he  was 
speaking,  the  south  wind  ceased ;  and  a  north  wind 
blew  for  many  days  after,  and  Cormac's  ship 
was  brought  back  to  land.  And  Cormac  came  to 
St.  Columba,   and,  God  granting  it,  they  beheld 


172         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

each  other  face  to  face,  amid  the  great  wonder  and 
no  little  joy  of  all. 

Let  the  reader,  therefore,  weigh  well  how  great 
and  of  what  holiness  this  blessed  man  was  who 
had  such  prophetic  knowledge,  and  could,  by 
invoking  the  Name  of  Christ,  command  the  winds 
and  the  sea. 

NOTES 
The  Orkney  Islands,   "  Or  cades  Ins  u /as" 
From  the  peril  which  Cormac  ran  into  when  reaching 
the  islands,  it  is  probable  that  the  inhabitants,  Picts  or 
Scandinavians,  were  still  pagans. 

Cormac 's  voyage  to  the  "  region  of  the  north  " 
There  are  several  recorded  instances  of  voyages  made 
by  the  early  Irish  Christians  to  the  north,  to  Iceland,  the 
Faroe  Islands,  and  even  to  the  frozen  sea.  Dicuil,  in 
his  tract,  "  De  Mensura  Orbis  Terrse",  a.d.  825,  says 
that  particulars  relating  to  Thile  (Thule  :  Iceland)  had 
been  communicated  to  him  by  certain  clerics  who  had 
been  there  before  795,  and  that  after  one  day's  sail  to  the 
north,  beyond  it  they  found  the  sea  frozen. 

Cormac's  boat  was  of  the  class  called  curach  by  the 
Irish,  corwg  by  the  British,  coracle  in  modern  English. 
The  coracle  is  mentioned  by  Caesar,  "  Bell.  Civil."  I.  liv., 
Lucan  (iv. ),  Pliny  in  his  ' '  Natural  History  "  VII.  Ivi. ,  and 
Solinus,  chapter  xxxv.  The  building  of  a  curach  is 
thus  described  in  the  Life  of  St.  Brendan,  contemporary 
of  Columba.  "  Sanctus  Brendanus  et  qui  cum  eo 
erant,  acceptis  feramentis,  fecerunt  naviculam  levissimam 
costatam  et  columnatam  ex  vimine,  sicut  mos  est  in 
illis  partibus  [Mt.  Brandon,  in  Kerry]  et  cooperuerunt 
earn  coriis  bovinis  ac  rubricatis  in  cortice  roborina, 
linieruntque  foris  omnes  juncturas  navis,  et  expendia 
quadraginta  dierum  et  butirum  ad  pelles  preparandas 
assumpserunt  ad  cooperimentum  navis,  et  cetera  utensilia 
quae  ad  usum  vitae  humanae  pertinent.  Arborem  posuerunt 
in  medio  navis  fixum,  et  velum,  et  cetera  quae  ad 
gubernationem  navis  pertinent. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         173 

Certain  loathsome  and  very  dangerous  creatures 

Dr.  Fowler  tells  us  in  a  note  to  this  passage  that 
the  Rev.  Dr.  A.  M.  Norman  suggested  to  him  that  these 
creatures  must  have  been  the  common  stinging  jelly-fish, 
Cyancea  capillata :  "  They  are  larger  than  frogs,  but  their 
brown  colour,  and  the  fact  that  the  rounded  bell  of 
a  floating  cyanaea  above  the  water  is  not  unlike  the 
rounded  back  of  a  frog  floating  still  at  the  surface,  might 
have  suggested  the  comparison.  The  jelly-fish  are  often 
a  great  impediment  to  rowing,  their  long  tentacula 
becoming  entangled  in  the  blades  of  the  oars ;  and 
fishermen  know  too  well  the  effects  of  their  stinging 
filaments  when  they  handle  ropes,  nets,  or  oars,  or  any- 
thing that  has  come  in  contact  with  the  jelly-fish." 


XLIII 

CONCERNING    THE    VENERABLE    MAN'S   JOURNEY 
ON   A   CAR  WITHOUT   ITS   LINCH-PINS. 

At  another  time,  when  the  Saint  was  staying 
for  some  days  in  Ireland,  preoccupied  by  some 
ecclesiastical  business,  he  mounts  a  car  ready 
yoked,  previously  blessed  by  him,  but,  through 
some  unaccountable  oversight,  without  the  neces- 
sary linch-pins  being  first  inserted  in  the  holes  at 
the  axle-ends. 

Now  on  this  occasion  it  was  Columbanus,  son 
of  Eochaid,  a  holy  man,  founder  of  that  monastery 
which  in  the  Irish  tongue  is  called  Slamluthir 
[Slanore],  who  acted  as  driver  in  the  same  car 
with  St.  Columba.  And  so  there  was  on  that  day 
a  great  strain  on  it  over  long  stretches  of  road, 
without  the  wheels  and  the  axles  falling  asunder, 
although,  as  has  been  said  above,  there  were  no 


174 


LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 


linch-pins  to  hold  them  together  or  steady  them. 
But  it  was  by  the  Divine  grace  alone  thus  favouring 
the  venerated  man  that  the  car  in  which  he  was 
comfortably  seated  moved  forward  without  mishap 
on  a  straight  course. 

Thus  far  may  it  suffice  to  have  written  concern- 
ing the  miraculous  powers  which  the  Divine  Om- 
nipotence wrought  through  the  illustrious  man 
while  abiding  in  this  life.  Now  also  are  to  be 
commemorated  some  few  of  those  which  are 
proved  to  have  been  granted  to  him  by  the  Lord 
after  his  passing  away  from  the  body. 


NOTE 


SCULPTURED    STONE,    MEIGLE,    PERTHSHIRE 

The  car  here  spoken  of  would  no  doubt  be  such  a  one 
as  is  here  figured. 


LIFE  -OF   SAINT    COLUMBA  175 


XLIV 

HOW  RAIN  FELL  ON  THE  THIRSTY  GROUND  AFTER 
SOME  MONTHS  OF  DROUGHT,  THE  LORD 
GRANTING  IT  FOR  THE  HONOUR  OF  THE 
BLESSED   MAN. 

Almost  fourteen  years  ago,  there  was  in  these 
barren  lands  a  very  great,  continuous  and  severe 
drought  in  the  spring  time,  insomuch  that  that 
threat  of  the  Lord,  applied  in  the  Book  of  Leviticus 
(xxvi.)  to  the  sinful  people,  seemed  to  be  hanging 
over  them,  where  He  says  :  "  I  will  give  you  the 
heaven  above  as  iron,  and  the  earth  as  brass.  Your 
labour  shall  be  spent  in  vain  ;  the  earth  shall  not 
brirg  forth  her  seed,  nor  the  trees  yield  fruit", 
etc.  We,  therefore,  on  reading  these  words,  and 
greatly  dreading  an  impending  calamity,  took 
counsel,  and  agreed  that  this  should  be  done :  that 
some  of  our  elders  should  walk  round  a  newly- 
ploughed  and  sown  field,  with  the  white  tunic  of 
St.  Columba,  and  with  books  written  with  his  own 
pen  ;  and  that  they  should  lift  up  in  the  air  and 
thrice  shake  out  the  tunic,  the  same  one  in  which 
he  was  clad  at  the  hour  of  his  departure  from  the 
body;  and  that  they  should  open  his  books,  and 
read  them  on  the  Hill  of  the  Angels,  where  once 
on  a  time  the  Citizens  of  the  Heavenly  Country 
were  seen  to  descend  to  hold  conversation  with  the 
blessed  man.  And  after  all  these  things  had  been 
done,  according  to  the  counsel  taken,  wonderful  to 


176         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

say,  on  that  same  day  the  sky,  bare  of  clouds  during 
the  past  months,  March,  namely,  and  April,  was 
with  marvellous  rapidity  overspread  with  them, 
suddenly  rising  up  from  the  sea,  and  a  great  rain 
fell  continuously  day  and  night,  and  the  earth, 
thirsty  before,  was  now  thoroughly  soaked,  pro- 
duced its  shoots  in  due  season,  and,  the  same  year, 
very  joyful  harvests.  And  thus  the  mention  of  the 
name  alone  of  the  blessed  man,  revered  in  his 
tunic  and  in  his  books,  turned  to  the  timely  succour 
of  many  districts  and  people  at  once. 

NOTES 

Almost  fourteen  years  ago 
Dr.  Reeves  says  :  ' '  The  substance  of  this  chapter  is 
briefly  related  in  Cummian's  Life,  where  it  is  prefaced, 
'Post  mortem  viri  Dei' — 'After  the  death  of  the  man 
of  God.'  Now  if  this  be  a  genuine  work,  and  if  the 
writer  be  Cuimine  Ailbe,  it  will  follow  that  the  present 
chapter  of  Adamnan  was  written  between  679  and  683  : 
for  Cummian,  who  relates  the  occurrence,  died  in  669  ; 
therefore  that  is  the  latest  date  to  which  we  can  add  the 
fourteen  years  in  the  text,  which  brings  us  to  683,  four 
years  after  Adamnan's  elevation  to  the  abbacy  of  Iona." 

The  Hill  of  the  Angels 
"  Colliculum  Angelorum."  This  is  the  knoll  called 
Sithean  Mor,  "great  fairies'  hill,"  in  the  Machar  or  Plain 
of  Iona.  Not  far  away  is  the  Sithean  Beg,  "little  fairies' 
hill."  "The  fairies'  hills  of  pagan  mythology  became 
angels'  hills  in  the  minds  of  the  early  Christian  saints. 

'  Tun'd  by  Faith's  ear  to  some  celestial  melody.' 

In  this  case  there  is  a  special  reason  for  the  name." — 
Fowler. 

The  Hill  of  the  Angels  is  again  referred  to  further  on 
in  Book  III. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         177 

XLV 

CONCERNING  CONTRARY  GALES  OF  WIND 
CHANGED  BY  THE  POWER  OF  THE  VENER- 
ABLE MAN'S  PRAYERS  INTO  FAVOURABLE 
WINDS. 

Actual  instances  of  such  miracles  as  we  ourselves 
have  seen  undoubtedly  confirm  for  us  our  faith 
in  those  of  past  times  which  we  have  not  seen. 
For  we  ourselves  have  thrice  seen  contrary  gales 
of  wind  changed  into  favourable  ones.  The  first 
time  was  when  long  boats  of  hewn  pine  and  oak 
were  being  hauled  across  country,  and  massive 
ship  and  house -building  materials  as  well  were 
being  towed  away.  Taking  counsel  together,  we 
placed  the  garments  and  the  books  of  the  blessed 
man  upon  the  altar  with  psalms  and  with  fasting 
and  with  the  invocation  of  his  name  that  he 
might  obtain  from  the  Lord  fair  winds  on  our 
behalf.  Which  so  came  to  pass,  God  granting  it 
to  the  same  holy  man  ;  for  on  that  same  day 
on  which  our  sailors,  all  things  beings  ready, 
proposed  to  tow  the  beams  and  the  above-men- 
tioned material  through  the  sea  with  their  boats 
and  coracles,  the  winds,  which  on  the  previous 
days  had  been  contrary,  were  suddenly  changed 
into  favourable  ones  ;  and  then,  God  being  pro- 
pitious, with  the  help  of  fair  winds  throughout 
the  whole  day,  all  that  flotilla  came  prosperously 
through  long  and  winding  channels,  with  full  sails 
and  without  any  detention,  to  the  island  of  Iona. 

But  a  second  time,  after  an  interval  of  some 

N 


178         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

years,  when  twelve  coracles  had  been  got  together, 
and  other  oak  timbers,  together  with  ourselves, 
were  being  towed  from  the  mouth  of  the  river  Sale 
for  the  repairing  of  our  monastery  ;  while  the 
sailors  one  calm  day  were  sweeping  the  sea  with 
their  oars,  there  suddenly  arises  against  us  the 
west  wind,  which  is  also  called  Zephyr.  We  then 
ran  for  the  nearest  island,  which  is  called  Air- 
thrago  in  Irish,  seeking  there  a  haven  wherein  to 
stay.  But  in  the  meantime  we  complain  of  that 
untimely  contrariness  of  the  wind,  and  we  begin 
in  a  way  almost  to  grumble  at  our  Columba,  saying : 
"Doth  it  afford  thee  pleasure,  O  Saint,  this  our 
unfortunate  delay?  Hitherto  we  looked  for  some 
comfortable  solace  of  our  toils  from  thee,  God 
being  propitious,  as  we  thought  thee  to  be  a  man 
of  some  considerable  account  in  the  sight  of  God." 
This  said,  after  a  short  interval  as  it  were  of  a 
single  moment,  wonderful  to  say,  and  quicker  than 
it  can  be  told,  lo  !  the  contrary  west  wind  ceases 
and  the  favourable  south-east  wind  blows.  The 
sailors  getting  the  word  draw  taut  the  halliards  and 
hoist  and  square  the  yards  and  sails  in  the  form  of 
a  cross,  and  with  prosperous  and  gentle  breezes  we 
are  wafted  without  an  effort,  and  arrive  at  our  island 
that  same  day,  rejoicing  in  the  freight  of  the  tim- 
bers with  all  our  helpmates  who  were  in  the  boats. 
In  no  small  degree  did  that  peevish  grumbling  to 
the  holy  man,  slight  though  it  was,  profit  us  !  and 
what  and  how  great  in  the  Lord's  sight  is  the 
merit  of  the  Saint  whom  He  Himself  heard  ap- 
pears from  such  a  sudden  change  of  the  winds. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         179 

Then,  a  third  time,  in  the  summer  season,  after 
the  meeting   of   an    Irish   synod,  when   we   were 
detained  for  some  days  by  contrary  winds  among 
the  people  of  the  tribe  of  Lome,  and  had  got  as 
far  as  the  Sainean  island  [Shuna],  there  the  vigil 
and  solemn  day  of  St.  Columba  found  us  waiting 
and  very  sorrowful,  desirous  as  we  were  indeed  to 
keep  that  day  as  a  joyful  one  in  the  island  of  Iona. 
Wherefore,  as  before,  once  again  we  complained, 
saying  :   "  Doth  it  please  thee,  O   Saint,  that  we 
should  spend  to-morrow,  the   day   of  thy  Feast, 
among  country  folk,  and  not  in  thy  church  ?     Easy 
is  it  for  thee  on  the  vigil  of  such  a  day  to  obtain 
from  the  Lord  that  the  contrary  winds  be  changed 
into  favourable  ones,  and  that  we  celebrate  in  thy 
church  the  solemn  Mass  of  thy  Feast  day."     That 
night  being  over,  we  rise  early  in  the  morning, 
and,  seeing  that  the  adverse  winds  had  ceased,  we 
board  our  ships,  not  a  breath  of  wind  blowing,  and 
put  out  to  sea  ;   and  behold  !   immediately  there 
springs  up  behind  us  the  wind  from  due  south, 
also  called  Notus.     Then  at  once  the  sailors  joy- 
fully rig  up  the  sails,  and  so,  on  that  day,  God 
granting  it  to  the  blessed  man,  so  easy  and  rapid 
and  prosperous  was  our  voyage,  that,  as  we  at  first 
wished,  we  arrived  at  the  haven  of  the  isle  of  Iona 
after  the  third  hour  of  the  day  [9  a.m.]  ;  and  after 
washing  our  hands  and  feet  entered  the  church 
with  the  Brethren  at  the  sixth  hour  [noon],  and 
celebrated  together  the    solemnities  of    Mass   on 
the  Feast  day  of  Saints   Columba  and  Baithene 
[June  9]  ;  on  the  break  of  which  day,  as  above 


i8o         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

said,  we  had  sailed  forth  from  the  far-off  Sainean 
island  [Shuna  :  thirty  miles  from  Iona].  And  wit- 
nesses of  this  story  above  related  are  yet  living  ; 
not  two  or  three  only,  according  to  the  law,  but  a 
hundred  and  more. 

NOTES 

Long  ships  of  hewn  pine  and  oak 

Hollowed  out  of  trees.  One  of  these  ancient  canoes, 
of  oak,  was  found  at  Brigg  in  Lincolnshire  in  1886. 
It  is  48  feet  6  inches  long  and  4  feet  6  inches  across, 
and  was  made  from  a  tree  of  six  feet  in  diameter,  the 
trunk  of  which  had  grown  to  the  height  of  fifty  feet 
before  putting  out  lateral  branches.  Similar  canoes  have 
been  found  in  the  Clyde,  the  Forth,  and  in  other  parts  of 
Great  Britain.      (See  illustration  on  p.  98.) 

The  river  Sale 
Probably  the  Seil,  in  Lome. 

For  the  repairing  of  otir  monastery 

The  buildings  were  mostly  of  timber,  more  Scottorum, 
stone  building  being  the  mos  Romanorum.  Wood  was 
the  rule  and  stone  the  exception  until  the  twelfth  cen- 
tury. The  church  of  Greenstead  in  Essex  affords  an 
early  example  of  a  timber  church. 

The  island  Airthrago 
Unidentified ;  possibly  Arran. 

After  the  meeting  of  an  Irish  synod 

The  date  of  this  synod  is  not  recorded,  but  from  the 
closing  words  of  this  chapter  it  may  be  inferred  to  have 
been  held  a  considerable  time  before  the  writing  of  these 
memoirs. 

People  of  the  tribe  of  Lome 
Kinel  Loairn  ;  the  tribe  of  Lome,  in  Argyleshire. 


LIFE   OF    SAINT    COLUMBA         181 

The  island  Shuna 
"  Saineam    Insulam  "  ;    in    nether    Lome,    near    its 
southern  extremity. 

Easy  it  is  for  thee 

Belief  in  the  power  and  intercession  of  saints,  as 
shown  in  the  concluding  chapters  of  this  Book,  was 
clearly  as  earnest  and  sincere  in  the  early  days  of  the 
Catholic  Church  as  it  is  now. 

The  haven  of  Iona  island 

If  they  put  in  at  the  nearest  landing  place,  it  would 
be  Port-a-churaich.  |  See  the  map. 

The  Feast  day  of  Saints  Columba  and  Baithene 

June  9th :  St.  Baithene  succeeded  St.  Columba  as 
Abbot  of  Iona,  and  died  in  599,  surviving  him  only 
three  years.  His  Acts  are  preserved  in  the  Codex 
Salmanticensis  at  Brussels,  and  the  following  is  the 
account  of  the  coincidence  of  his  and  St.  Columba's 
Feast  day:  "On  the  third  day  of  the  week,  while  St. 
Baithene  was  praying  at  the  high  altar,  the  sleep  of 
death  fell  upon  him ;  but  when  the  Brethren  were 
lamenting  around  him,  Diormit,  the  servant  of  Columba, 
says :  '  Behold,  Brothers,  ye  see  that  there  will  not  be  a 
long  interval  between  the  two  Feast  days  of  your  Abbots.' 
Baithene,  as  though  aroused  out  of  a  heavy  sleep  by 
these  words,  says  :  '  If  I  have  found  grace  in  the  eyes  of 
God,  and  if  I  have  finished  a  perfect  course  in  His  sight 
up  to  this  day,  I  trust  in  Him  that  I  shall  not  die  until 
the  Feast  day  of  the  Founder.'  Which  thus  in  about  six 
days  came  to  pass."  The  joint  festival  is  thus  mentioned 
in  the  "  Feiiire  "  of  Aengus  : — 

"  They  went  into  the  eternal  kingdom 
Into  eternal  life  of  brightest  splendour, 
Baithene  the  noble,  the  angelical, 
Columb-Kille  the  resplendent." 


i82         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 
XLVI 

ABOUT  THE  PLAGUE. 

And  this  also,  as  I  think,  seems  a  thing  not  to 
be   reckoned  among  the   lesser    miracles   of  his 
power — the  plague,  which  in  our  times  has  twice 
devastated  the  greater  part  of  the  world.     For  not 
to  mention  the  other  and  wider  regions  of  Europe, 
namely,  Italy  and  the  Roman  city  itself  and  the 
Cisalpine  Provinces  of  the  Gauls,  also  those   of 
Spain,  separated  by  the  Pyrenean  mountain  range  ; 
the  isles  of  the  sea  generally,  namely,  Ireland  and 
Britain,  have  been  twice  devastated  by  a  dreadful 
pestilence,  except  two  peoples,  namely,  the  people 
of  the  Picts  and  that  of  the  Scots  of  Britain  [the 
Irish  colonists  in  what  is  now  Scotland],  between 
whom    the    mountains    of   the    Britannic    Ridge 
[Drum  Alban :    the   Grampians]   form   a  barrier. 
And  although  there  are  not  wanting  amongst  both 
peoples  great  sins,  by  which  the  Eternal  Judge  is  often 
provoked  to  anger,  yet  hitherto,  bearing  patiently 
with  both,  He  has  spared  them.     To  whom  else 
can  this  grace,  granted  them  by  God,  be  attributed 
except  to  St.  Columba,  whose  monasteries,  founded 
within  the  boundaries  of  both  people,  have  up  to 
the  present  time  been  held  in  high  honour  by  both? 
But  this  which  we  are  about  to  say  is  not,  as  we 
think,  to  be  heard  without  a  sigh,  that  there  are 
many  very  doltish  people  among  both  races,  who, 
not  knowing  that  they  are  shielded  from  diseases 
by  the  prayers  of  the  Saints,  are  ungrateful,  and 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         183 

wickedly  abuse  God's  patience.  We,  however, 
give  frequent  thanks  to  God,  Who  also  in  these 
our  islands  guards  us  from  the  inroads  of  plagues, 
our  venerable  patron  praying  for  us  ;  and  in 
Saxonia  [England]  also,  on  our  visit  to  my  friend, 
King  Aldfrid,  while  the  plague  had  not  yet  ceased 
and  was  devastating  many  villages  up  and  down 
the  country,  the  Lord,  nevertheless,  delivered  us 
from  danger  as  He  had  done  in  its  first  visitation 
after  the  war  of  Ecgfrid,  and  in  the  second,  two 
years  later,  although  we  walked  in  the  midst  of 
the  danger  of  death  ;  so  that  not  one  of  my  own 
company  died,  nor  was  any  one  of  them  troubled 
by  any  disease. 

This  Second  Book  of  Miracles  of  Power  must 
now  be  ended,  and  in  it  the  reader  ought  to  take 
notice  that  even  of  those  that  are  well  authenti- 
cated many  have  been  passed  over  so  that  readers 
may  not  be  wearied. 

HERE   IS   ENDED   THE  SECOND   BOOK. 


NOTES 

The  plague 

The  yellow  plague  which  visited  Britain  and  Ireland 
in  the  sixth  and  seventh  centuries.  In  664  (Adamnan 
being  then  forty),  Bede  says  :  "  A  sudden  pestilence  de- 
populated the  southern  coast  of  Britain,  and  afterwards 
extending  into  the  Province  of  the  Northumbrians 
ravaged  the  country  far  and  near,  and  destroyed  a  great 
multitude  of  men  .  .  .  This  pestilence  did  no  less  harm  in 


1 84         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

the  island  of  Ireland."  And  in  684  it  is  recorded  in  the 
Irish  annals  that  there  was  a  mortality  upon  all  animals 
in  general  throughout  the  whole  world  for  the  space  of 
three  years,  so  that  there  escaped  not  one  in  a  thousand 
of  any  kind  of  animals. 

Except  two  peoples 

The  Picts  and  the  Scots,  the  other  two  peoples  in- 
habiting the  island  of  Britain,  were  the  Britons  and  the 
invading  Teutonic  tribes  collectively  known  as  Saxons. 

The  Scots  of  Britain 

Thus  Bede  calls  Aedan  "King  of  the  Scots,"  i.e.  of 
the  Irish  who  inhabit  Britain. 

"My  friend  King  Aldfrid" 
Aldfrid,  Aldfrith,  or  Ealdfrith,  the  Northumbrian 
Prince,  who  succeeded  his  brother  Ecgfrith  as  king  in 
685,  was  at  the  time  of  Adamnan's  accession  to  the 
Abbacy  of  Iona,  679,  a  refugee  in  Ireland,  and  during 
his  exile  was  under  instruction  with  Irish  monks  for 
some  time  at  least  at  Iona.  The  Irish  knew  Aldfrith  as 
Flann  Fina  Mac  Ossa  from  Fina,  his  Irish  mother,  and 
Oswill  his  father.  He  was  called  the  foster-son  or 
alumnus  of  Adamnan,  who  appears  to  have  kept  up 
frequent  communication  with  him,  and  presented  to  him 
his  book  "  De  Locis  Santis,"  upon  the  Holy  Places. 


BOOK  III 


PILLOW-STONE  OF  SAINT  COLUMBA,   IONA  (SEE  BOOK  III.  CHAP.  XXIII.) 


HERE  BEGINS  THE  THIRD  BOOK. 
CONCERNING  THE  VISIONS  OF  ANGELS. 

In  the  first  of  these  three  little  books,  as  has 
been  mentioned  above,  certain  things  have  been 
written  down  shortly  and  concisely,  the  Lord 
helping,  concerning  Prophetic  Revelations.  In 
the  Second  Book,  above,  we  wrote  concerning 
Power  of  Miracles  which  have  been  made  manifest 
through  the  blessed  man,  and  which,  as  has  often 
been  said,  the  gift  of  prophecy  generally  ac- 
companies. 

But  in  this  Third  Book  we  shall  write  about 
Angelic  Apparitions  which  have  been  revealed 
either  to  others  concerning  the  blessed  man,  or 
to  himself  concerning  others  ;  and  of  those  which 
have  been  revealed  in  both  ways,  although  in 
different  measures ;  that  is  to  say,  to  himself  directly 
and  fully,  but  to  others  indirectly  and  partially — 
that  is,  by  exterior  communication  and  experi- 
mentally, although  all  relate  to  the  same  visions 
of  Angels  of  heavenly  light  ;  and  these  varieties  of 
such  visions  will  be  clearly  recorded  hereafter  in 
their  proper  places.  But  now  let  us  begin  and 
describe  these  same  Angelic  Apparitions  from  the 
first  beginnings  of  the  blessed  man's  birth. 

187 


i88         LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 

I 

On  a  certain  night,  between  the  conception  and 
the  birth  of  the  venerable  man,  the  Angel  of  the  Lord 
appeared  to  his  mother  in  sleep,  and,  standing  by  her, 
brought  her  a  certain  mantle  of  marvellous  beauty, 
in  which  lovely  colours  of  all  flowers  seemed  as 
it  were  depicted  ;  and,  after  a  brief  interval,  he 
asks  for  it  back,  and  took  it  from  her  hands,  and 
raising  and  spreading  it  out  sent  it  forth  into  the 
empty  air.  She,  however,  saddened  by  its  being 
taken  away,  thus  speaks  to  that  man  of  venerable 
aspect :  "  Why  dost  thou  thus  quickly  take  away 
from  me  this  lovely  mantle?"  He  immediately 
replies  :  "  For  the  reason  that  this  mantle  belongs 
to  one  of  such  grandeur  and  honourable  station 
that  thou  canst  keep  it  no  longer  by  thee."  And, 
these  words  said,  the  woman  saw  the  afore- 
mentioned mantle  gradually  receding  from  her  in 
its  flight,  and  increasing  in  size  so  as  to  exceed  the 
width  of  the  plains,  and  to  overtop  the  mountains 
and  forests  ;  and  then  she  heard  this  following 
voice  :  "  Be  not  sorrowful,  woman,  for  to  the  man 
to  whom  thou  art  joined  by  the  marriage  contract 
thou  shalt  bring  forth  a  son  so  illustrious  that,  like 
one  of  the  prophets  of  God,  he  will  be  numbered 
among  them,  and  is  predestined  by  God  to  be  the 
leader  of  innumerable  souls  to  the  Heavenly 
Country."  And  while  she  hears  this  voice  the 
woman  awakes. 

NOTE 

Increasing  in  size 
The  old  Irish  "  Life  of  Columba"  describes  the  mantle 
reaching  from  the  Inishymoe  islands  in  Clew  Bay,  on 
the  coast  of  Mayo,  to  the  north-east  coast  of  Scotland. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         189 


II 

OF    A    LUMINOUS    RAY    SEEN    ON    THE    FACE    OF 
THE   BOY   HIMSELF   AS    HE   SLEPT. 

On  another  night  Cruithnechan,  the  priest,  a 
man  of  admirable  life,  the  foster-father  of  the  same 
blessed  boy,  returning  after  Mass  from  the  church 
of  his  little  dwelling,  found  his  entire  house  irra- 
diated by  bright  light :  for  he  saw,  indeed,  a  globe 
of  fire  stationary  over  the  face  of  the  little  sleeping 
boy.  And  seeing  it,  he  immediately  trembled 
with  fear,  and,  falling  with  face  on  the  ground 
in  great  wonder,  he  understood  that  the  grace 
of  the  Holy  Spirit  was  poured  out  from  heaven 
upon  his  foster-child. 

NOTES 

Cruithnechan,  the  priest 

The  name  is  a  diminutive  of  Cruithnech  =  Pict.  It 
does  not  occur  in  the  Irish  Calendars,  but  there  is  a 
parish  in  County  Derry  now  called  Kilcronaghan,  i.e. 
Kill  Cruithnechain. 

The  church 

This  was  Killmicnenain,  anciently  Doire-Ethne,  and 
now  Kilmacrenan,  in  Co.  Donegal.  The  churches 
connected  with  the  history  of  St.  Columba's  early  life 
are  all  in  this  neighbourhood,  namely,  Gartan,  where  he 
was  born  ;  Tulach  Dubhglaisse,  now  Temple  Douglas, 
where  he  was  baptized  by  the  Cruithnechan  here  men- 
tioned ;  Killmicnenain  and  Rath-enaigh,  where  he  was 
instructed  by  Bishop  Brugach. 


iqo         LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 


III 

CONCERNING  AN  APPARITION  OF  HOLY  ANGELS 
WHOM  ST.  BRENDAN  SAW  ACCOMPANYING 
THE  BLESSED  MAN  AND  WALKING  WITH 
HIM   ON  THE  PLAIN. 

Now  after  a  long  interval  of  time,  when  St. 
Columba  was  excommunicated  by  a  certain  synod 
for  some  venial  and  quite  excusable  causes — not 
rightly,  as  afterwards  in  the  end  became  clear — 
he  came  to  the  same  Assembly  which  was  con- 
vened against  himself.  And  when  St.  Brendan,  the 
founder  of  that  monastery  which  is  called  in  Irish 
Birra  [Birr],  saw  him  approaching  from  afar,  he 
quickly  rises,  and  with  face  bent  down  reverently 
kisses  him. 

And  when  some  seniors  of  that  Assembly,  apart 
from  the  rest,  were  chiding  him  saying:  "Why 
didst  thou  not  refrain  from  rising  up  to  and  kissing 
one  who  is  excommunicated?"  speaking  thus  to 
them,  he  says  :  "  If  ye  had  seen  those  things  which 
the  Lord  has  not  disdained  to  show  to  me  this 
day  regarding  this,  His  chosen  one,  whom  you 
dishonour,  you  would  never  have  excommunicated 
one  whom  not  only  does  God  in  no  wise  excom- 
municate, according  to  your  unjust  sentence,  but 
even  more  and  more  highly  exalteth."  They,  on 
the  other  hand,  say:  "We  would  like  to  know 
how,  as  thou  sayest,  God  doth  glorify  him  whom 
we  have  excommunicated,  and  not  without  cause?" 
"  I  have  seen,"  says  Brendan,  "  a  comet-like  and 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         191 

exceedingly  bright  pillar  going  before  this  same 
man  of  God,  whom  ye  despise,  and  holy  Angels, 
also,  accompanying  him  in  his  walk  on  the  plain. 
I  dare  not,  therefore,  slight  this  man  whom  I  see 
fore-ordained  by  God  to  be  a  leader  of  nations 
unto  life."  When  he  had  said  these  words,  not  only 
did  they  desist,  not  daring  further  to  excommunicate 
the  Saint,  but  even  honoured  him  with  great  venera- 
tion. This  thing  was  done  in  Teilte  [Teltown, 
Meath]." 

NOTES 

Excommunicated  by  a  certain  synod 

There  is  no  means,  says  Reeves,  of  ascertaining  with 
certainty  the  date  of  this  synod,  or  the  acts  of  Columba 
which  it  condemned.  It  was  possibly  in  561,  after  the 
battle  of  Cul  Dreimhne,  and  Columba's  action  in  bring- 
ing about  that  battle  may  have  been  the  reason  of  his 
excommunication. 

St.  Brendan 

Founder  of  Birr.  He  must  be  distinguished  from 
Brendan,  founder  of  Clonfert.  They  were  both  con- 
temporary friends  of  Columba.  St.  Brendan  of  Birr 
died  in  573.  Birr,  "Birra"  in  the  text,  is  now  Parsons- 
town. 

This  thing  was  done  in  Teilte 

Teilte,  now  Teltown,  between  Kells  and  Navan  in 
Co.  Meath,  was  famous  in  old  times  for  a  great  fair.  It 
was  also  a  seat  of  royalty,  so  that  the  monarch  of  Ireland 
was  sometimes  styled  "King  of  Taillte."  The  ruins  of 
a  church  and  the  remains  of  a  large  rath  and  other 
ancient  works  distinguish  the  site. 


192         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


IV 

OF  THE  ANGEL  OF  THE  LORD  WHOM  ST.  FINNIAN 
SAW  ACCOMPANYING  THE  BLESSED  MAN  ON 
HIS   JOURNEY. 

At  another  time  the  holy  man,  when  yet  young, 
went  to  the  venerable  bishop  Finnian,  his  former 
master,  by  this  time  an  old  man.  And  when  St. 
Finnian  saw  him  drawing  near  to  him,  he  also  saw 
an  Angel  of  the  Lord  accompanying  him  on  his 
journey  :  and,  as  is  handed  down  to  us  by  wit- 
nesses, he  made  it  known  to  certain  Brethren 
standing  by,  saying  :  "  Behold,  now,  ye  may  see 
St.  Columba  approaching,  who  has  deserved  to 
have  an  Angel  of  Heaven  as  companion  of  his 
journey." 

It  was  in  those  days  that  the  Saint  sailed  over 
to  Britain  with  twelve  comrades,  disciples  of  his. 

NOTES 
Bishop  Finnian 
Probably  St.  Finnian  of  Magh-bile  (Moville). 

In  those  days 
In  the  "Life  of  Columba"  by  Cummian,  Abbot  of  Iona, 
from  which  much  of  this  third  book  of  Adamnan  is 
derived,  the  narrative  here  given  ends  with  the  speech  of 
St.  Finnian  describing  the  accompanying  Angel,  and  it 
is  the  next  chapter  which  begins  with  "  It  was  in  those 
days,  etc.",  and  goes  on  with  the  miracle  of  the  water 
and  wine  as  in  Book  II.  chapter  i.  The  twelve  are 
thus  given  in  the  fifteenth  century  MS.  of  Adamnan, 
Codex  B.  in  the  British  Museum  Royal  MSS.  8d  ix.  : 
"  Duo  filii  Brenden,  Baithene  qui  et  Conin  sancti  sue- 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         193 

cessor  Columbse ;  et  Cobthach,  frater  eius ;  Ernaan 
sancti  avunculus  Columbae ;  Diormitius,  eius  minis- 
trator  ;  Rus  et  Fechno,  duo  filii  Rodain ;  Scandal  filius 
Bresail  filii  Endei  filii  Neil ;  Luguid  Mocuthemne ; 
Echoid ;  Tochannu  Mocufir-cetea  (St.  Machar  of  Aber- 
deen) ;  Cairnaan  filius  Branduib  filii  Meilgi ;  Grillaan. 


V 

CONCERNING  THE  ANGEL  OF  THE  LORD  WHO 
WAS  SENT  AND  APPEARED  IN  A  VISION  TO 
ST.  COLUMBA  WHEN  SOJOURNING  IN  THE 
ISLAND  OF  HINBA,  THAT  HE  MIGHT  OR- 
DAIN AIDAN   KING. 

At  another  time,  when  the  illustrious  man  was 
staying  in  Hinba  island  [Eilean-na  Naoimh  ?],  one 
night  in  an  ecstasy  of  mind  he  saw  an  Angel  of 
the  Lord  sent  to  him,  who  held  in  his  hand  a  book 
of  glass  of  the  Ordination  of  Kings,  and  when  the 
venerable  man  had  received  it  from  the  Angel's 
hand,  at  his  command  he  began  to  read  it.  And 
when  he  refused  to  ordain  Aedhan  as  king  accord- 
ing to  the  direction  given  to  him  in  the  book, 
because  he  loved  Iogenan  his  brother  more,  the 
Angel,  suddenly  stretching  forth  his  hand,  struck 
the  Saint  with  a  scourge,  of  which  the  livid  mark 
remained  on  his  side  all  the  days  of  his  life,  and 
he  added  these  words,  saying  :  "  Know  thou  for 
certain  that  I  am  sent  to  thee  by  God  with  this 
book  of  glass,  that  according  to  the  words  which 
thou  hast  read  in  it  thou  mayest  ordain  Aedhan  to 
the  kingship — and  if  thou  art  not  willing  to  obey 
this  command,  I  will  strike  thee  again."  When, 
O 


194         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

therefore,  this  Angel  of  the  Lord  had  appeared  for 
three  successive  nights,  having  in  his  hand  that 
same  book  of  glass,  and  had  pressed  the  same 
commands  of  the  Lord  concerning  the  ordination 
of  that  king,  the  Saint  obeyed  the  word  of  the 
Lord,  and  sailed  across  to  the  isle  of  Iona,  and 
there,  as  he  had  been  commanded,  ordained  as  king 
Aedhan,  who  arrived  there  at  that  same  time.  And 
during  the  words  of  ordination  he  prophesied  future 
events  regarding  his  sons  and  grandsons  and  great- 
grandsons,  and  laying  his  hand  upon  his  head,  he 
ordained  him  and  blessed  him. 

Cuimine  the  Fair,  in  the  book  which  he  wrote 
concerning  the  virtues  of  St.  Columba,  thus  said 
that  St.  Columba  began  to  prophesy  as  to  Aedhan 
and  his  posterity  and  his  kingdom,  saying  : 
"  Believe,  O  Aedhan,  without  doubt,  that  none  of 
thy  adversaries  will  be  able  to  resist  thee  unless 
thou  first  do  wrong  to  me  and  to  those  who  come 
after  me.  Wherefore  do  thou  commend  it  to  thy 
sons,  that  they  also  may  commend  to  their  sons 
and  grandsons  and  posterity,  lest  through  evil 
counsels  they  lose  from  out  their  hands  the  sceptre 
of  this  realm.  For  in  whatever  time  they  do  aught 
against  me,  or  against  my  kindred  who  are  in 
Ireland,  the  scourge  which  I  have  endured  from 
the  Angel  in  thy  cause  shall  be  turned  upon  them, 
by  the  hand  of  God,  to  their  great  disgrace,  and 
men's  hearts  shall  be  withdrawn  from  them  and 
their  enemies  shall  be  greatly  strengthened  over 
them." 

Now  this   prophecy  has  been   fulfilled   in   our 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         195 

times  in  the  battle  of  Roth,  when  Domhnall  Brecc, 
grandson  of  Aedhan,  devastated  without  cause 
the  province  of  Domhnall,  grandson  of  Ainmire. 
And  from  that  day  to  this  they  are  in  decadence 
through  pressure  from  without — a  thing  which  con- 
vulses one's  breast  and  moves  one  to  painful  sighs. 

NOTES 

A  book  of  glass 

"Vitreum  Librum"  and  "  Vitreum  Codicem."    Some 

commentators  think  that  this  ceremonial  book  is  called 

"  Liber  Vitreus"  because,  perhaps,  the  cover  of  it  was 

encrusted  with  glass  or  crystal. 

Iogenan 

Brother  of  Aedhan.     He  died  595. 

Ordained  hi?n  a?id  blessed  him 
Reeves  says,  that  the  service  which  St.  Columba 
rendered  on  this  occasion  was  productive  of  reciprocal 
advantage,  for  while  it  conferred  the  sanction  of  religion 
upon  the  questionable  title  of  Aedhan,  it  secured  to  the 
Abbot  of  Iona  a  prescriptive  supremacy  in  the  politico- 
religious  administration  of  Dalriada.  Conventual,  not 
episcopal,  rank  was  what  conferred  social  and  political 
importance  on  ecclesiastics  in  the  eyes  of  the  Scots  at 
that  day,  and  St.  Columba,  whose  influence  was  now  con- 
firmed by  a  ten  years'  successful  administration  of  Iona,  in 
addition  to  his  royal  descent,  occupied  the  same  relation 
to  the  Dalriadic  kings  that  the  Abbot  of  Armagh  did  to 
the  sovereigns  of  Ireland. 

Cuimine  the  Fair 
CummeneusAlbus;  in  Irish,  Cuimine  Ailbhe,  surnamed 
also  Fionn,  or  Albus,  the  Fair,  seventh  Abbot  of  Iona, 
657-669.  He  wrote  a  book,  "  Devirtatilus  Sancti 
Columbae",  which  Adamnan  has  incorporated  in  this 
third  book  of  his  own  work  on  the  Saint. 


196         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

The  battle  of  Roth 
Magh  Rath,  either  Moira  in  Co.  Down  or  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Newry.  The  battle  was  fought  in  637,  and 
is  recorded  in  the  Annals  and  in  an  ancient  historical 
romance  called  "The  Battle  of  Magh  Rath,"  published 
in  the  original  Irish,  with  translation  and  notes,  for  the 
Irish  Archaeological  Society  in  1842  by  Professor 
O'Donovan.  The  battle  continued  with  varying  success 
for  six  days,  and  on  the  seventh  the  Irish  king,  Domhnall, 
son  of  Aedh,  son  of  Ainmire,  cousin  of  St.  Columba, 
was  victorious,  Domhnall  Brec,  king  of  the  Irish  Scots, 
hardly  escaping  to  Britain  with  the  remains  of  his  army. 
He  was  defeated  in  another  battle  by  the  Picts  in  Glen 
Morison,  and  it  is  not  unlike,  says  Thomas  Innes  ("Civil 
and  Ecclesiastical  History  of  Scotland "),  that  to  this 
decay  of  the  Scots'  affairs  in  Britain,  Bede  refers  as  to 
King  Oswald,  and  Oswy  and  other  Saxon  monarchs 
about  this  time  lording  it  over  the  Scots  as  well  as  over 
the  Picts  and  Britons. 

They  are  in  decadence 
The  sceptre  passed  to  the  house  of  Loarn  after  the 
house  of  Gabhran  had  suffered  many  reverses,  of  which 
the  rival  families  of  the  race  took  advantage,  the  Picts, 
Strathclyde  Britons,  and  the  Saxons  profiting  by  the  decline 
of  the  Dalriadic  power. 


VI 

CONCERNING  AN  APPARITION  OF  ANGELS  WHO 
CARRIED  TO  HEAVEN  THE  SOUL  OF  A  CER- 
TAIN  BLESSED   BRITO. 

At  another  time,  when  the  holy  man  was  staying 
in  the  isle  of  Iona,  Brito,  one  of  his  monks,  intent 
on  good  works,  was  seized  with  bodily  illness 
and  brought  to  the  last  extremity.  And  when  the 
venerable    man   visited   him   in   the   hour  of  his 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         197 

departure,  he  stood  a  little  while  at  his  bedside 
and  blessing  him,  he  quickly  goes  out  of  the  house, 
not  wishing  to  see  him  die.  And  in  the  same 
moment  after  the  departure  of  the  holy  man  from 
the  house,  he  ended  his  life.  Then  the  illustrious 
man,  walking  in  the  little  court  of  his  monastery, 
his  eyes  uplifted  to  heaven,  was  for  a  long  time 
lost  in  wonder  and  admiration.  But  a  certain 
Brother,  Aedhan  by  name,  son  of  Libir,  a  man 
religious  and  of  good  disposition,  who  alone  of  the 
Brethren  was  present  at  the  time,  began  on  his 
bended  knees  to  ask  that  the  Saint  would  tell  him 
the  cause  for  this  so  great  astonishment.  To 
whom  the  Saint :  "  Now  have  I  seen  in  the  air 
holy  Angels  warring  against  the  hostile  powers, 
and  I  give  thanks  to  Christ  the  Judge  that  the 
Angels  have  prevailed,  and  have  borne  up  to  the 
joys  of  the  Heavenly  Country  the  soul  of  this 
exile,  the  first  who  has  died  among  us  in  this 
island.  But  I  beseech  thee  not  to  reveal  this 
holy  secret  to  anyone  during  my  life." 

NOTE 
Brito 

A  British  monk  at  Iona,  probably  St.  Odhran,  who, 
according  to  the  ancient  Irish  "Life",  was  the  first  of 
Columba's  monks  to  die  in  Iona.  The  narrative  is  as 
follows :  "  Colum-Kille  said  to  his  people  :  '  It  would  be 
well  for  us  that  our  roots  should  pass  into  the  earth  here. 
It  is  permitted  to  you  that, some  one  of  you  go  under 
the  earth  of  this  island  to  consecrate  it.'  Odhran  arose 
quickly,  and  thus  spake  :  '  If  you  accept  me,'  said  he, 
'  I  am  ready  for  that.'  '  O  Odhran  ',  said  Colum-Kille, 
'  you  shall  receive  the  reward  of  this  :  no  request  shall  be 


198         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

granted  to  any  one  at  my  tomb  unless  he  first  ask  of  thee.' 
Odhran  then  went  to  heaven.  He  (Colum)  founded  the 
church  of  Hy  (Iona)  then."  It  is  remarkable,  says 
Reeves,  that  the  only  cemetery  in  the  island  is,  and  has 
been  for  many  centuries,  named  after  Odhran.  ' '  Probably 
Odhran  was  the  first  of  St.  Columba's  fraternity  who  was 
interred  in  the  island,  and  the  whole  island  being  called 
after  the  patron,  the  cemetery  took  its  name  from  the 
first  kinsman  of  his  community  who  was  buried  in  it." 
And  Fowler  remarks  upon  the  curious  story  above  quoted, 
that  it  was  probably  founded  upon  this  narrative  Of 
Adamnan  or  some  other  tradition  of  a  real  conversation 
between  Columba  and  Odhran,  distorted  by  passing 
through  minds  on  which  pagan  ideas  retained  considerable 
hold. 


VII 

OF  A  VISION  REVEALED  TO  THE  SAME  HOLY 
MAN  CONCERNING  ANGELS  WHO  BORE  TO 
HEAVEN   THE   SOUL  OF   ONE  DIORMIT. 

At  another  time,  a  certain  Irish  wayfarer  came 
to  the  Saint  and  remained  with  him  for  some 
months  in  the  island  of  Iona.  To  whom  one  day 
the  blessed  man  says  :  "  Now  is  one  of  the  clerics 
of  thy  province,  whose  name  I  do  not  as  yet  know, 
being  carried  to  heaven  by  angels."  But  the 
Brother  hearing  this  began  to  bethink  himself  re- 
garding the  province  of  the  Anteriores  [Easterns], 
which  is  called  in  Irish  Indairthir  [East  Oriel,  in 
Ulster],  and  regarding  the  name  of  that  blessed 
man  ;  and  then  he  made  this  remark,  saying  :  "  I 
know  another  soldier  of  Christ,  named  Diormit, 
who  built  for  himself  a  little  monastery  in  the 
same  district  wherein   I   also  dwelt."     To  whom 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         199 

the  Saint  says  :  "  He  it  is  of  whom  thou  tellest 
who  is  now  borne  to  Paradise  by  the  Angels  of 
God." 

But  this  also  should  be  diligently  noted — that 
the  same  venerable  man  in  no  wise  allowed  to  be 
brought  to  the  knowledge  of  men  many  holy 
secrets,  revealed  to  him  by  God,  but  concealed 
from  others,  and  that  for  two  reasons,  as  he  him- 
self once  intimated  to  a  few  Brethren,  namely, 
that  he  might  avoid  vainglory,  and  that  he  might 
not  attract  by  the  fame  of  his  revelations  over- 
whelming crowds  of  people  desirous  of  making 
inquiries  of  him  regarding  themselves. 

NOTE 
The  province  of  the  Anteriores 
The  Airtheara  (Easterns)  inhabiting  East  Oriel, 
anciently  Airghialla,  in  Ulster.  We  have  had  the  name 
before  in  chapter  xliii.  of  Book  I.  The  Irish  Indairthir 
is  compounded  of  ind,  an  old  form  of  the  article  in  the 
nominative  plural,  and  Airthir,  easterns. 

VIII 

CONCERNING  A  GREAT  BATTLE  OF  ANGELS 
AGAINST  DEMONS,  AND  HOW  THEY  OPPOR- 
TUNELY ASSISTED  THE  SAINT  IN  THE  SAME 
CONFLICT. 

On  another  day  the  holy  man,  living  at  the  time 
in  Iona,  sought  among  the  woodland  a  place  far 
remote  from  men  and  fitting  for  prayer,  and  there, 
as  he  himself  afterwards  told  a  few  of  the  Brethren, 
when  he  began  to  pray  suddenly  he  sees  a  very 


2oo         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

black  host  of  demons  fighting  against  him  with 
iron  darts  ;  and  as  had  been  revealed  to  the  holy 
man  by  the  Spirit,  they  wished  to  invade  his 
monastery  and  with  their  darts  to  kill  many  of 
the  Brethren.  But  he,  one  man  against  innumer- 
able foes  —  and  such  foes  —  taking  the  armour 
of  the  Apostle  Paul,  fought  in  brave  conflict. 
And  so  for  the  greater  part  of  the  day  the  war 
was  waged  on  both  sides ;  neither  could  they, 
innumerable  as  they  were,  vanquish  the  one  ;  nor 
was  he  strong  enough  alone  to  drive  them  from  his 
island,  until  the  Angels  of  God,  as  the  Saint 
afterwards  related  to  a  few  persons,  came  to  his 
aid,  and  for  fear  of  them  the  demons,  terror- 
stricken,  quitted  the  place.  And  on  the  same  day 
the  Saint,  returning  to  the  monastery  after  the 
flight  of  the  demons  from  his  island,  speaks  this 
word  about  the  same  hostile  bands,  saying: 
"Those  deadly  foes  who,  God  being  propitious 
and  the  Angels  helping  us,  have  this  day  been  put 
to  flight  from  the  boundaries  of  this  territory  to 
the  Ethican  land  [Tiree],  shall  there  like  savage 
invaders  attack  the  monasteries  of  the  Brethren 
and  bring  about  pestilential  diseases,  by  the  viru- 
lence of  which  many  shall  be  attacked  and  die. 
And  this  in  those  days  came  to  pass  according 
to  the  foreknowledge  of  the  blessed  man.  And 
after  a  two  days'  interval,  the  Spirit  revealing  it  to 
him,  he  says  :  "  Well  has  Baithene,  by  God's  help, 
managed  that  the  congregation  of  the  church  over 
which  by  Divine  authority  he  presides  in  the  Plain 
of  Lunge  [Tiree]  is  defended  by  fastings  and  by 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         201 

prayers  from  the  invasion  of  the  demons,  for  there 
no  one,  except  the  one  already  dead,  will  die  this 
time."  And  this  was  so  fulfilled,  according  to  his 
prophecy.  For  while  many  were  dying  of  the 
same  disease  in  the  other  monasteries  of  that 
island,  no  one,  except  the  one  of  whom  the  Saint 
spoke,  died  at  Baithene's  monastery  of  his  com- 
munity. 

NOTES 

The  armour  of  the  Apostle  Paul 

"Wherefore  take  unto  you  the  whole  armour  of  God 
that  ye  may  be  able  to  withstand  in  the  evil  day.    .    . 
Stand  therefore,  having  your  loins  girt  about  with  truth 
and  having  on  the  breastplate  of  righteousness.    .    . 
Above  all,  taking  the  shield  of  faith,  wherewith  ye  shall 
be  able  to  quench  all  the  fiery  darts  of  the  wicked ' 
(St.  Paul  to  the  Ephesians  vi.).     St.  Cuthbert  used  the 
same  armour  when  he  drove  the  devils  out  of  Fame 
(Bede's  "Life  of  St.  Cuthbert"). 

The  other  monasteries 

of  Tiree.  Besides  the  monastery  of  the  Plain  of 
Lunge,  Adamnan  mentions  that  of  Artchain  (I.,  xxxvi.). 
"Compared  with  its  extent,"  says  Reeves,  "the  ecclesi- 
astical remains  of  Tiree  are  very  numerous.  Kilbride, 
Kilchenich,  Kilfinnan,  Kilmoluag,  Claodh  -  Odhrain 
and  Templepatrick,  commemorative  of  Saints  Brigid, 
Cainnech,  Finnian,  Molua,  Odhran  and  Patrick,  in  the 
common  calendar  of  Ireland  and  Scotland,  are  the  names 
of  farms  on  which  there  are  or  were  religious  houses. 
Soroby  and  Kirkapoll,  the  ancient  parish  cemeteries,  are 
rich  in  curious  monuments  ;  and  vestiges  of  Christian 
burials  have  been  found  in  several  other  places." 


202         LIFE    OF   SAINT    COLUMBA 


IX 

CONCERNING  AN  APPARITION  OF  ANGELS  WHOM 
THE  MAN  OF  GOD  SAW  TAKING  UP  TO 
HEAVEN  THE  SOUL  OF  ONE  COLUMB,  A 
BLACKSMITH,   SURNAMED   COILRIGIN. 

A  certain  blacksmith,  very  devoted  to  works  of 
charity  and  full  of  other  good  deeds,  lived  in  the 
midlands  of  Ireland.  When  this  above-mentioned 
man  Columb,  surnamed  Coilrigin,  had  come  to  his 
latter  end  in  a  good  old  age,  St.  Columba,  then 
dwelling  in  Iona,  in  the  same  hour  in  which  he 
was  led  forth  from  the  body,  thus  spoke  to  some 
seniors  standing  around  him  :  "  Columb  Coilrigin, 
the  blacksmith,  has  not  laboured  in  vain,  for  by  the 
labour  of  his  own  hands  he  has  obtained  eternal 
rewards — an  eager  buyer  and  a  lucky  one  !  For 
behold  now  is  his  soul  borne  by  holy  Angels 
to  the  joys  of  the  Heavenly  Country.  For  what- 
ever he  could  earn  by  the  exercise  of  his  craft  he 
spent  upon  alms  for  the  poor." 

NOTE 
Columb  Coilrigin 

Possibly  of  the  tribe  Calraighe.  Columb  gobha,  i.e. 
Columb  the  smith,  is  in  the  Calendar,  June  7,  and  may 
be  the  Columb  of  the  narrative. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         20^ 


X 

CONCERNING  A  SIMILAR  VISION  OF  ANGELS 
WHOM  THE  BLESSED  MAN  BEHELD  BEARING 
TO  HEAVEN  THE  SOUL  OF  A  CERTAIN 
VIRTUOUS   WOMAN. 

At  another  time,  in  like  manner,  the  holy  man, 
while  living  in  Iona,  one  day  suddenly  raising  his 
eyes  to  heaven,  said  these  words  :  "  Happy  woman, 
happy  for  thy  virtues,  thou  whose  soul  God's  Angels 
are  now  bearing  to  Paradise."  Now  there  was  a 
certain  religious  Brother,  Genere  by  name,  a  Saxon 
and  a  baker,  working  at  the  baker's  trade,  who  had 
heard  this  word  proceeding  from  the  mouth  of  the 
Saint.  And  on  the  same  day  of  the  month  at  the 
end  of  the  same  year,  the  Saint  says  to  the  same 
Genere,  the  Saxon  :  "  I  see  a  wonderful  thing. 
Behold  the  woman  of  whom  I  spoke  in  thy  presence 
last  year  is  now  meeting  in  the  air  the  soul  of  her 
husband,  a  certain  religious  peasant,  and  together 
with  the  holy  Angels  is  fighting  for  it  against  the 
envious  powers  ;  and  their  assistance  and  the  good 
life  of  that  poor  man  recommending  him,  his  soul 
is  rescued  from  the  warring  demons  and  conducted 
to  the  place  of  eternal  refreshment." 

NOTE 

Genere,  a  Saxon 

"Saxo",  that  is  an  Englishman.  Adamnan  and  others 
give  the  name  Saxonia  to  England  in  general;  to  the 
Irish  and  Gaelic-speaking  Scots  an  Englishman  is  a 
' '  Saxon  "  to  this  day. 


204         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

XI 

OF  AN  APPARITION  OF  HOLY  ANGELS  WHOM  ST. 
COLUMBA  SAW  MEETING  IN  ITS  PASSAGE 
THE  SOUL  OF  BLESSED  BRENDAN,  THE 
FOUNDER  OF  THAT  MONASTERY  WHICH  IN 
IRISH   IS   NAMED    BIRR. 

On  another  day  in  like  manner,  while  the 
venerable  man  was  living  in  Iona,  he  calls  to  him 
early  in  the  morning  his  oft-mentioned  attendant, 
Diormit  by  name,  and  commands  him,  saying : 
"  Let  the  sacred  requisites  for  the  Eucharist  be 
made  ready  quickly,  for  to-day  is  the  Birthday 
Festival  of  Blessed  Brendan."  "Wherefore",  says 
the  attendant,  "dost  thou  command  that  such 
solemn  celebration  of  Mass  should  be  prepared  for 
to-day?  for  no  messenger  of  the  death  of  that 
holy  man  has  come  to  us  from  Ireland."  Then 
the  Saint  says  :  "  Go ;  thou  shouldst  obey  my 
order.  For  last  night  I  saw  heaven  suddenly 
opened  and  choirs  of  angels  descend  to  meet  the 
soul  of  the  holy  Brendan  ;  and  by  their  luminous 
and  incomparable  brightness  the  whole  world  was 
illuminated  in  that  hour." 

NOTES 
Birthday  Festival 
"Natalis  dies"  ;  as  in  II.  xlv.     The  birthday  of  the 
future  state  ;  the  death-day  on  earth. 

Blessed  Brendan 
Reference  has  already  been  made  to  him  in  chapter  iii. 
of  this  book.     He  died  c.  573  in  the  eightieth  year  of 
his  age.     November  29  is  his  day  in  the  Calendar. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         205 
XII 

OF  A  VISION  OF  HOLY  ANGELS  WHO  CARRIED 
UP  TO  HEAVEN  THE  SOUL  OF  ST.  COLUMBAN 
MOCU  LOIGSE,   THE   BISHOP. 

On  a  certain  day  again,  while  the  Brethren 
were  putting  on  their  shoes  in  the  morning,  and 
preparing  to  go  to  their  different  occupations  in 
the  monastery,  the  Saint  orders  them  to  rest,  on 
the  contrary,  on  that  day,  and  the  obsequies  of  the 
Holy  Sacrifice  to  be  prepared,  and  some  addition 
to  be  made  to  dinner,  as  on  the  Lord's  Day, 
"  And  me ",  he  says,  "  it  behoves  to  celebrate 
to-day  the  sacred  mysteries  of  the  Eucharist, 
unworthy  though  I  be,  out  of  veneration  for  that 
soul,  which,  in  this  night,  borne  along  among  holy 
choirs  of  Angels,  ascends  beyond  the  starry  spaces 
of  the  heavens  to  Paradise." 

And  the  Brethren  obey  these  words,  and  accord- 
ing to  the  Saint's  command  rest  on  that  day,  and 
the  sacred  ministries  having  been  prepared,  they  go 
to  the  church  with  the  Saint,  clad  in  white  as  on  a 
feast  day.  But  by  chance,  when  among  other  offices 
chanted  that  usual  prayer  was  sung  in  which  the 
name  of  St.  Martin  is  commemorated,  the  Saint 
suddenly  says  to  the  choristers,  when  they  come 
to  the  place  where  his  name  occurs  :  "  To-day  ye 
ought  to  chant  for  St.  Columban,  the  bishop.'7 
Then  all  the  Brethren  who  were  present  understood 
that  Columban,  a  bishop  in  Leinster,  a  dear  friend 
of  Columba,  had  passed  away  to  the  Lord.  And 
after  an  interval  of  some  time,  people  come  from 


206         LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

the  province  of  Leinster  and  announce  that  that 
same  Bishop  died  on  that  night  on  which  it  was  so 
revealed  to  the  Saint. 

NOTES 
St.  Columban  Mocu  Loigse 

i.e.  Mac  U  Loighse :  of  the  clan  descended  from 
Loighsech  Cennmor,  son  of  Conall  Cernach,  a  famous 
hero  of  the  first  century.  From  him  was  derived  the 
name  of  the  district  of  Laighis,  afterwards  Leix,  in 
Queen's  County.  The  ancient  name  is  preserved  in  the 
parish  of  Abbeyleix. 

The  prayer  in  which  the  name  of  St.  Martin  is 
commemorated 
"In  the  ancient  Gallican  Liturgy,  which  seems  to  have 
been  closely  followed  by  the  Irish,  it  was  usual  for  the 
priest  after  he  had  placed  the  oblation  on  the  altar  to 
say  the  prayer  '  Veni  Sanctificator.''  This  was  followed 
by  the  recital  from  the  diptychs  of  the  saints'  names 
both  deceased  and  living,  in  whose  memory  or  for  whom 
the  offering  was  made  "  {Reeves).  In  the  form  described 
by  St.  Aurelianus  for  the  church  of  Aries  (and  quoted  by 
Mabillon,  "DeLiturgicoGallicano,"  I.  chap,  v.),  the  name 
of  Martin,  Bishop  and  Confessor,  occurs,  the  names  of 
the  saints  being  in  groups  :  first  the  fathers  and  founders 
of  the  church  of  Aries,  then  the  chief  saints  of  the 
Calendar,  ending  with  Csesarius,  the  Bishop  of  Aries,  who 
died  in  542.  As  Caesarius  was  named  in  the  prayer  for 
local  reasons,  he  was  probably  omitted  in  Iona,  and 
St.  Martin's  name,  which  immediately  precedes,  would 
thus  be  the  last  mentioned.  Columba  evidently  directed 
the  choristers  to  add  the  name  of  Columban  after  that 
of  St.  Martin.  Adamnan's  reference  to  the  prayer  as 
'  that  in  which  St.  Martin's  name  is  mentioned '  is 
accounted  for  by  the  fact  that  St.  Martin  was  held  in 
special  veneration  by  the  Celtic  Church  on  account  of 
St.  Patrick's  association  with  him. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         207 


XIII 

CONCERNING  AN  APPARITION  OF  ANGELS  WHO 
CAME  DOWN  TO  MEET  THE  SOULS  OF  THE 
MONKS   OF   ST.    COMGELL. 

At  another  time  the  venerable  man,  when  he  was 
living  in  Iona,  roused  by  some  sudden  impulse,  and 
getting  the  Brethren  together  by  sound  of  bell : 
"  Now,"  he  says,  "  let  us  help  by  prayer,  the  monks 
of  the  Abbot  Comgell,  drowning  at  this  hour  in  the 
Lough  of  the  Calf  [Belfast  Lough],  for  behold  at 
this  moment  they  are  warring  in  the  air  against 
hostile  powers  who  try  to  snatch  away  the  soul  of  a 
stranger  who  is  drowning  along  with  them."  Then, 
after  tearful  and  earnest  prayer,  quickly  rising  before 
the  altar  among  the  Brethren  who  are  also  pros- 
trate in  prayer,  he  says  with  joyful  countenance  : 
"  Give  thanks  to  Christ,  for  now  the  holy  Angels 
have  met  these  holy  souls,  and  have  delivered  that 
stranger-guest  and  triumphantly  rescued  him  from 
the  warring  demons." 

NOTE 
The  monks  of  the  Abbot  Comgell 
St.  ComgelPs  great  monastery  of  Bangor,  in  the  Ards 
of  Ulster,  was  founded  in  558.  The  churchyard  only 
remains  to  mark  the  site,  but  its  ancient  Antiphonary  of 
the  eighth  century  is  preserved  at  Milan.  An  interesting 
account  of  it  is  given  by  Dr.  Reeves  in  the  first  volume 
of  the  "  Ulster  Journal  of  Archaeology",  Belfast,  1853. 


2o8         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


XIV 

OF  A  MANIFESTATION   OF  ANGELS  WHO  MET 
THE  SOUL  OF  ONE   EMCHATH. 

At  another  time  the  holy  man,  when  making  a 
journey  beyond  the  Ridge  of  Britain  [Drum  Alban 
— the  Grampians],  near  the  Lake  of  the  River  Nisa 
[Loch  Ness],  was  of  a  sudden  inspired  by  the  Holy 
Ghost,  and  says  to  the  Brethren  accompanying 
him  :  "  Let  us  hasten  to  meet  the  holy  Angels 
who  have  been  sent  forth  from  the  highest  regions 
of  heaven  to  bear  on  high  the  soul  of  a  certain 
heathen  man,  who  has  preserved  his  natural 
goodness  through  all  his  life  to  an  extreme  old  age, 
and  are  awaiting  our  arrival  there  that  we  may 
baptize  him  in  time  before  he  dies."  And  thus 
speaking,  the  holy  old  man  hastened  on  before  his 
companions  as  well  as  he  could,  until  he  came  to 
the  district  called  Airchart-dan  [Glen  Urquhart], 
and  there  a  certain  old  man,  Emchath  by  name, 
was  found,  who  hearing  the  Word  of  God  preached 
by  the  Saint,  and  believing,  was  baptized,  and 
immediately,  joyful  and  safe  with  the  Angels  who 
met  him,  passed  away  to  the  Lord.  His  son,  too, 
Virolec,  also  believing,  was  baptized  with  his  whole 
house. 

NOTES 
Natural  goodness 
"  Naturale  bonum."      The  same  is  said  of  another 
Pict  in  I.  33. 

A  irchart-dan 
The  local  pronunciation  is  still  Arochdan. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         209 


XV 

of  the  angel  of  the  lord  who  came  oppor- 
tunely, and  in  the  nick  of  time,  to 
the  help  of  a  certain  brother  who 
fell  from  the  top  of  the  round  mon- 
astery in  the  plain  of  the  oak  wood 
[durrow]. 

At  another  time,  while  the  holy  man  was  sitting 
writing  in  his  little  hut,  his  countenance  suddenly 
changes,  and  he  pours  forth  this  cry  from  his 
pure  breast,  saying  :  "  Help  !  Help  !  "  Then  two 
Brethren  standing  at  the  door,  namely  Colgu,  son 
of  Cellach,  and  Lugne  Mocublai,  ask  him  the  cause 
of  so  sudden  a  cry.  To  whom  the  venerable 
man  gave  this  answer,  saying  :  "  I  have  directed 
the  Angel  of  the  Lord,  who  was  but  now  standing 
among  you,  to  go  quickly  to  help  one  of  the 
Brethren  who  has  fallen  from  the  top  of  the  roof 
of  the  great  house  which  is  now  being  built  in  the 
Plain  of  the  Oak  Wood."  And  the  Saint  then 
added  this,  saying  :  "  Very  marvellous  and  almost 
unspeakable  is  the  swiftness  of  angelic  flight,  equal, 
as  I  think,  to  the  rapidity  of  lightning.  For  that 
Heavenly  Citizen  who  just  now  flew  hence  away 
from  us,  when  that  man  was  beginning  to  fall, 
came  to  his  help  as  it  were  in  the  twinkling  of 
an  eye,  and  held  him  up  before  he  could  touch  the 
ground,  nor  could  he  who  fell  feel  any  fracture  or 
bruise.  How  amazing,  I  say,  is  this  most  swift 
and  timely  rescue  which,  quicker  than  words,  can 
P 


2io         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

be  effected  so  rapidly,  though  such  stretches  of  sea 
and  land  lie  between." 

NOTE 
The  Round  Monastery  .  .  .  the  great  house 
No  doubt  the  Round  Tower  of  the  monastery  of 
Durrow.  The  present  chapter  of  Adamnan,  says 
Reeves,  supplies  a  most  valuable  link  in  the  history  of 
the  Round  Towers.  It  points  to  their  primary  use  as 
monastic  abodes  known  by  the  name  Monasterium 
Rotundum,  and  regarded  as  belonging  to  a  class  of 
building  called  magna  or  major  domus,  as  contra- 
distinguished from  the  humble  cells  before  the  time 
when  they  took  their  name  of  Cloc  teach,  or  bell  house. 
"One  might  wish",  adds  Reeves,  "that  Adamnan  had 
used  the  word  turris  (tower),  or  the  technical  term 
campanile ;  but  castles  were  at  that  time  unknown  to 
the  Irish,  who  would  hardly  borrow  a  strange  word  to 
denote  a  familiar  object."  Notker  Balbulus,  of  St.  Gall, 
writing  in  the  beginning  of  the  tenth  century,  or  in  the 
preceding  one,  relating  this  same  story,  calls  the  building 
from  which  the  monk  fell  domus  altisszma,  and  speaks  of 
the  fall  as  being  de  culmine  ejus  enormis  fabricce. 


XVI 

OF  A  MULTITUDE  OF  HOLY  ANGELS  SEEN  DE- 
SCENDING FROM  HEAVEN  TO  A  TRYST  WITH 
THE  HOLY  MAN. 

Again,  at  another  time,  one  day,  the  holy  man 
then  living  in  Iona,  assembled  the  Brethren  to- 
gether and  charged  them  with  great  earnestness, 
saying  to  them  :  "  To-day  I  wish  to  go  alone  to 
the  western  plain  of  our  island  ;  therefore  let  none 
of  you  follow  me."  And  they  complying,  he  goes 
forth  alone  as  he  wished.     But  a  certain  Brother,  a 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         211 

cunning  and  prying  man,  going  by  another  way, 
secretly  posts  himself  on  the  top  of  a  certain 
hillock  which  overlooks  the  same  plain,  desiring 
to  find  out  the  cause  of  the  blessed  man's  going  out 
alone.  And  when  the  same  spy  from  the  top  of  the 
hillock  beheld  him  standing  on  a  certain  mound  on 
that  plain  and  praying  with  hands  spread  out  to 
heaven  and  raising  his  eyes  heavenward,  wonder- 
ful to  say,  behold  !  suddenly  a  marvellous  thing 
appeared,  which  the  same  above-mentioned  man 
(as  I  think  not  without  God's  permission)  saw  even 
with  his  bodily  eyes  from  his  place  on  the  hill  near 
by,  in  order  that  the  name  of  the  Saint  and  the 
honour  due  to  him,  even  against  his  will,  might 
afterwards,  through  the  vision  vouchsafed  him,  be 
more  widely  diffused  among  the  people.  For 
Holy  Angels,  citizens  of  the  Heavenly  Country 
clad  in  white  garments,  flying  to  him  with  wonderful 
swiftness,  began  to  stand  around  the  holy  man  as  he 
prayed,  and  after  some  conversation  with  the  blessed 
man,  that  celestial  band,  as  if  perceiving  that  it  was 
being  spied  upon,  sped  quickly  back  to  the  heights 
of  the  heavens.  And  the  blessed  man  himself, 
having  returned  to  the  monastery  after  the  angelic 
conference,  and  the  Brethren  being  again  assembled, 
he  inquires  with  no  little  chiding  which  of  them  is 
guilty  of  disobedience.  And  they  then  protesting 
they  did  not  know,  he  who  was  conscious  of  his 
inexcusable  transgression,  no  longer  able  to  hide 
his  fault,  suppliantly  begs  pardon  in  the  midst  of 
the  choir  of  the  Brethren  in  the  Saint's  presence. 
And  the  Saint  leading  him  aside  charges  him,  as  he 


212         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

kneels  before  him,  under  heavy  threats,  that  to  no 
man  must  he  reveal  anything,  even  the  least  particle 
of  the  secret  of  that  angelic  vision,  during  the  days 
of  the  same  blessed  man.  But  after  the  departure 
of  the  holy  man  from  the  body,  he  related  the 
apparition  of  the  Heavenly  host  to  the  Brethren 
with  solemn  attestation.  Whence  even  to  this 
day  the  place  of  that  angelic  conference  attests 
the  event  which  took  place  upon  it  by  its  proper 
name,  which  in  Latin  may  be  rendered  "Colli- 
culus  Angelorum,"  but  in  Irish  "  Cnoc  Angel." 
Wherefore  it  should  be  understood  how  great  and 
excellent  were  those  sweet  angel-visits  to  the 
blessed  man,  vouchsafed  him  for  the  most  part 
on  winter  nights  when  he  was  sleepless  in  lonely 
places,  while  others  were  at  rest,  visits  which 
could  not  by  any  means  come  to  the  knowledge 
of  men,  and  which  were  without  doubt  very  numer- 
ous. If  even  some  of  them  were  by  some  means 
found  out  by  men  either  by  day  or  night,  these 
without  doubt  were  very  few  compared  with  those 
angelic  visits  which  could  be  known  by  no  one. 
This  also  is  to  be  noted  in  like  manner  concerning 
certain  luminous  manifestations  which  were  seen 
by  a  few,  and  will  be  described  below. 

NOTES 

A  certain  hillock  ("  monticellus'''')  which  overlooks 
the  plain 

No  doubt  the  eminence  now  known  as  Cnoc  Orain, 
between  the  monastery  and  the  plain,  commanding  a  view 
of  the  plain  and  the  Saints'  standpoint. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         213 

A  certain  mound  on  that  plain 
"Colliculus  Angelorum,"  Cnoc  Angel,  the  Hill  of 
the  Angels,  referred  to  before  in  II.  xliv.  The  mound 
now  known  as  Sithean  Mor,  the  Great  Fairy  Hill,  a 
round  knoll  of  sand  covered  with  green  sward,  on  the 
left  of  the  little  road  which  leads  to  the  western  shore  of 
Iona. 


XVII 

OF    A    LUMINOUS    PILLAR    SEEN     BLAZING    UPON 
THE   HEAD  OF  THE  HOLY  MAN. 

At  another  time,  four  holy  founders  of  monas- 
teries, coming  over  from  Ireland  to  visit  St. 
Columba,  found  him  in  Hinba  island  [Eilean-na- 
Naoimh,  one  of  the  Garveloch  Isles?],  the  names 
of  which  illustrious  men  were  Comgell  Mocu  Aridi, 
Cainnech  Mocu  Dalan,  Brendan  Mocu  Alti, 
Cormac- Ua-Liathain.  These  with  one  accord 
agreed  that  St.  Columba  should  consecrate  the 
sacred  mysteries  of  the  Eucharist  in  the  church  in 
their  presence.  And  he,  obeying  their  command, 
enters  the  church  together  with  them  according  to 
custom  on  the  Lord's  Day,  after  the  reading  of  the 
Gospel ;  and  there,  while  the  solemnity  of  the 
Mass  was  being  celebrated,  St.  Brendan  Mocu  Alti, 
as  he  afterwards  told  Comgell  and  Cainnech,  saw 
a  certain  blazing  and  most  luminous  globe  of  fire 
burning  over  St.  Columba's  head  and  rising  up  like 
a  pillar  as  he  stood  before  the  altar  consecrating 
the  Holy  Oblation  until  the  same  most  holy 
ministrations  were  completed. 


214         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

NOTES 
Comgell  Mocu  Aridi 
Comgell  was  fourteenth  in  descent  from  Fiacha  Araidhe 
[a.d.  220],  the  ancestor  of  the  Dal- Araidhe,  whose 
territory  was  called  Dalaradia,  on  the  eastern  shore  of 
Lough  Neagh,  in  Antrim.  He  was  born  in  517,  founded 
his  church  of  Bangor  in  558,  visited  Scotland  and 
founded  a  church  in  Tiree  565,  died  602.  His  festival 
is  May  10. 

Cainnech  Mocu  Dalan 

He  derived  his  name  from  his  great-grandfather  Dalan, 

of  the  race  of  Ir,  King  of  Ireland.     His  principal  church 

was  Achadh-bo,  and  he  had  a  monastery  in  Scotland  at 

Kil-Righ-monaigh  (St.  Andrew's).  His  festival  is  Oct.  1 1 . 

Brendan  Mocu  Alti 
Already  mentioned  in  I.  xxvi.  He  was  St.  Brendan  the 
famous  voyager,  founder  of  Clonfert,  commemorated  in 
the  Calendar  May  16.  Kerry  was  the  principal  district  of 
his  race,  the  Kiarraighe.  Born  482,  founded  Clonfert  559, 
died  577.     His  day  is  May  16. 

Cormac-  Ua-Liathain 

Already  mentioned  in  I.  vi.  and  II.  xlii.  Abbot  of 
Dearmagh.  He  is  called  by  one  of  the  chroniclers 
"  Cormac-Ua-Liathain  of  the  Sea,"  a  name  which,  as 
chapter  xlii.  of  Adamnan's  First  Book  shows,  was  well 
deserved.  Two  ancient  Irish  poems,  one  a  dialogue  be- 
tween Cormac  and  Columba  after  Cormac's  escape  from 
the  perils  of  the  sea,  and  the  other  an  address  to  him  on 
coming  from  Durrow,  are  preserved  in  the  O'Clery  MSS. 
at  Brussels,  and  are  given  in  the  ' '  Additional  Notes  "  of 
Reeves's  edition  of  Adamnan. 

The  abbots  here  mentioned  were  often  together,  con- 
nected as  their  lives  were  by  the  many  churches  in  the 
west  of  Scotland. 

A  certain  .    .    .   globe  of  fire 
That  is,  with  comet-like  rays  streaming  from  it. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         215 


XVIII 

OF  THE  DESCENT  OR  VISITATION  OF  THE  HOLY 
GHOST  WHICH,  IN  THE  SAME  ISLAND,  RE- 
MAINED OVER  THE  HOLY  MAN  FOR  THREE 
SUCCESSIVE  DAYS  AND   NIGHTS. 

At  another  time,  when  the  holy  man  was  dwelling 
in  the  isle  of  Hinba  [Eilean-na-Naoimh],  the  grace 
of  holy  inspiration  was  marvellously  poured  forth 
and  abode  upon  him  in  an  abundant  and  incompar- 
able manner  for  three  days,  so  that  he  remained 
three  days  and  as  many  nights,  neither  eating  nor 
drinking,  within  the  house  which  was  locked  and 
filled  with  celestial  brightness,  and  he  would  allow 
no  one  to  approach  him.  And  from  this  same  house 
rays  of  intense  brilliancy  were  seen  at  night  bursting 
from  the  chinks  of  the  doors  and  the  keyholes.  And 
certain  hymns  which  had  not  been  heard  before 
were  heard  being  sung  by  him.  But  he  himself,  as 
he  afterwards  declared  in  the  presence  of  a  very  few 
persons,  saw  openly  manifested  many  secrets  hid- 
den since  the  beginning  of  the  world.  And  some 
obscure  and  most  difficult  passages  of  the  Sacred 
Scriptures  became  plain  and  clearer  than  the  light 
to  the  eyes  of  his  most  pure  heart.  He  complained 
that  his  foster-son,  Baithene,  was  not  present,  for  if 
he  had  chanced  to  be  there  during  those  three  days, 
he  might  have  written  down  many  things  from  the 
lips  of  the  blessed  man  unknown  by  other  men — 
mysteries  either  concerning  past  ages  or  those 
which  were  to  follow  after,  and  also  some  explana- 


2i6         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

tions  of  the  Sacred  Volumes.  Baithene,  however, 
could  not  be  present,  detained  as  he  was  by  a 
contrary  wind  in  the  isle  of  Egea  [Eigg],  until  those 
three  days  and  as  many  nights  of  that  incomparable 
and  honour-conferring  visitation  came  to  an  end. 

NOTE 
The  isle  of  Egea 
Eigg,  forty  miles  north  of  Iona.  St.  Donnan,  an 
Irishman  and  disciple  of  St.  Columba,  founded  a 
monastery  there,  and  in  617  perished  with  his  com- 
munity of  fifty-one  persons  in  an  attack  by  pirates. 
The  church  of  the  island  is  named  after  him,  Kill-donan. 


XIX 

OF  THE  ANGELIC  SPLENDOUR  OF  THE  LIGHT 
WHICH  VIRGNO,  A  YOUTH  OF  GOOD  DIS- 
POSITION, WHO  BY  THE  WILL  OF  GOD 
AFTERWARDS  PRESIDED  OVER  THIS  CHURCH 
(OF  IONA)  WHICH  I,  THOUGH  UNWORTHY, 
NOW  SERVE,  SAW  DESCENDING  UPON  ST. 
COLUMBA  IN  THE  CHURCH  ON  A  WINTER'S 
NIGHT,  WHILE  THE  BRETHREN  WERE  AT 
REST   IN   THEIR   BEDS. 

One  winter's  night  the  above-mentioned  Virgno, 
burning  with  the  love  of  God,  enters  the  church 
alone  for  the  sake  of  prayer  while  the  others  were 
asleep,  and  there  devoutly  prayed  in  a  certain  side- 
chamber  which  adjoined  the  wall  of  the  Oratory. 
And  after  a  considerable  interval,  of  about  an 
hour,  the  venerable  man  Columba  enters  the  same 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         217 

holy  house,  and  along  with  him  a  golden  light 
descended  from  the  highest  heaven  and  filled 
all  that  part  of  the  church.  But  the  brightness 
of  the  same  celestial  light  bursting  through 
the  inner  door  of  that '  chamber,  which  was  just 
a  little  ajar,  filled  the  interior  of  that  other  little 
side  house  where  Virgno  was  doing  his  best  to 
hide  himself — and  not  without  a  certain  degree 
of  intense  fear.  And  as  no  one  can  gaze  with 
direct  and  undazzled  eyes  upon  the  summer  and 
noonday  sun,  so  also  Virgno,  who  saw  it,  could 
by  no  means  bear  that  celestial  brightness  because 
that  incomparable  flood  of  light  much  dazzled  the 
sight  of  his  eyes.  The  above-mentioned  Brother 
was  so  greatly  frightened  at  the  sight  of  this 
terrible  and  lightning-like  splendour,  that  no 
strength  remained  in  him.  But  St.  Columba,  after 
no  prolonged  prayer,  goes  out  of  the  church.  And 
on  the  morrow  he  calls  to  him  Virgno,  who  was 
very  much  alarmed,  and  sighing,  addresses  him  in 
these  few  consoling  words,  saying  :  "  Well  pleasing 
hast  thou  been  in  God's  sight  this  night  past,  O 
my  child,  casting  down  thine  eyes  to  the  ground, 
terrified  as  thou  wert  by  the  fear  of  His  brightness, 
for  hadst  thou  not  so  done  thine  eyes  would  have 
been  blinded  by  the  sight  of  that  peerless  light. 
But  this  thou  must  carefully  observe,  never  to 
disclose  to  any  one  in  my  lifetime  this  manifesta- 
tion of  light."  And  so  it  was  that  after  the  passing 
away  of  the  blessed  man  this  remarkable  and 
wonderful  event  became  known  to  many  through 
the  narrative  of  the  same  Virgno.     Comman,  an 


2i8         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

honourable  priest,  son  of  Virgno's  sister,  gave  to 
me,  Adamnan,  an  attested  account  of  the  above- 
recorded  vision.  And  he  had  also  heard  the  story 
of  it  from  the  lips  of  his  uncle,  the  Abbot  Virgno 
himself,  in  so  far  as  he  had  been  able  to  see  it. 

NOTES 
Which  I  though  unworthy  now  serve 
Adamnan's  abbacy  was  from  679  to  704,  and  thus  this 
work  was  written  between  those  years. 

Virgno 

Also  Fergno.  This  was  Fergna  Brit,  fourth  Abbot  of 
Iona,  605-623.  He  was  descended  from  Enna  Boghaine, 
who  gave  his  name  to  Boghainigh,  now  Banagh,  in 
western  Donegal. 

Comman 

He  was  brother  of  St.  Cuimine  Fionn,  seventh  Abbot 
of  Iona. 

A  certain  side  chamber 

"  Quadam  exedra."  This  was  the  side  house  or 
sacristy,  in  Irish  Erdamh,  found  in  many  of  the  existing 
early  buildings,  and  entered  from  the  interior  of  the 
church.  G.  Petrie,  in  his  "  Ecclesiastical  Architecture  of 
Ireland",  mentions  examples  of  erdamhs  at  Glenda- 
lough  and  Inis  Cathy.  The  Great  Gospel  of  Columb- 
Kille,  known  as  the  Book  of  Kells,  was  stolen  out  of  the 
erdamh  at  Kells  in  1005. 

XX 

OF  ANOTHER  ALMOST  SIMILAR  VISION   OF 
BRIGHTNESS   FROM   ABOVE. 

Another  night  also,  one  of  the  Brethren,  Colgius 
by  name,  son  of  Aedh  Draignichi,  of  the  race  of 
Fechreg,  of  whom  we  made  mention  in  the  first 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         219 

book  (in  chapter  xvii.),  came  by  chance  to  the  door 
of  the  church  while  the  others  were  sleeping,  and, 
standing  there,  prayed  for  a  while.  And  then  he 
sees  the  whole  church  filled  with  celestial  light, 
which  light,  like  lightning,  vanished,  quicker  than 
words,  from  his  eyes.  He  did  not  know,  however, 
that  St.  Columba  was  in  the  church  praying  at  the 
same  time.  And  after  this  sudden  apparition  of 
light,  he  returns  home  in  great  fear.  On  the  next 
day  the  Saint,  calling  him  to  him,  sharply  rebuked 
him,  saying  :  "  Thou  sliouldst  take  care  from  this 
time,  my  son,  that  thou  dost  not,  like  a  spy,  attempt 
to  see  the  heavenly  light,  which  has  not  been 
granted  to  thee,  because  it  will  escape  thee  ;  and 
tell  not  any  one  in  my  days  what  thou  hast  seen." 


XXI 

OF    ANOTHER    SIMILAR    APPARITION    OF    DIVINE 
LIGHT. 

Again,  at  another  time,  the  blessed  man  one 
day  gave  strict  orders  to  a  certain  pupil  of  his, 
Berchan  by  name,  surnamed  Mesloen.  who  was 
learning  wisdom,  saying :  "  Take  care,  my  son, 
that  thou  come  not  near  my  little  dwelling  to-night, 
as  thou  art  always  accustomed  to  do."  And  he, 
hearing  this,  went,  despite  the  prohibition,  to  the 
blessed  man's  house  in  the  silence  of  the  night 
while  the  others  were  sleeping,  and  put  his  eye 
straight  to  the  keyhole,  and  slyly  peeped,  expecting 
— as  the  event  proved — that  some  celestial  vision 


22o         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

would  be  manifested  to  the  Saint  within.  For  at  that 
same  hour  that  little  dwelling  was  filled  with  the 
splendour  of  heavenly  brightness ;  and,  not  bearing 
the  sight  of  it,  the  young  trespasser  instantly  fled. 
And  on  the  morrow  the  Saint,  leading  him  aside, 
and  rebuking  him  with  great  severity,  addresses 
him  in  these  words,  saying  :  "  Last  night,  my  son, 
thou  didst  sin  before  God,  for  thou  didst  foolishly 
think  that  thy  crafty  and  cunning  spying  could  be 
concealed  or  hidden  from  the  Holy  Spirit.  Did 
I  not  see  thee  at  that  hour  coming  to  the  door  of 
my  dwelling,  and  returning  thence  ?  and  had  I  not 
prayed  for  thee  in  that  same  moment,  thou  wouldst 
either  have  fallen  dead  there  before  the  door  or 
thine  eyes  might  have  been  torn  from  their  sockets. 
But  the  Lord  hath  spared  thee  this  time  for  my  sake. 
And  know  thou  this,  that  thou  shalt  live  riotously  in 
thy  native  Irish  land,  and  thereafter  thy  face  shall 
blush  with  shame  all  the  days  of  thy  life.  But 
this  I  have  obtained  from  the  Lord  in  my  prayers, 
that  because  thou  art  foster-child  of  ours,  thou 
shalt  do  penance  in  tears  before  thy  death  and 
obtain  mercy  from  God."  All  which  things  so 
happened  to  him  afterwards,  according  to  the 
blessed  man's  word,  as  they  had  been  prophesied 
concerning  him. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         221 


XXII 

OF  ANOTHER  APPARITION  MANIFESTED  TO  THE 
HOLY  MAN  OF  ANGELS  WHOM  HE  SAW  SET- 
TING OUT  TO  MEET  HIS  HOLY  SOUL  WHEN 
IT  WAS   ABOUT   TO   LEAVE  THE   BODY. 

At  another  time,  while  the  blessed  man  was 
living  in  the  isle  of  Iona,  his  holy  face  suddenly 
blossomed  into  wonderful  and  joyous  cheerful- 
ness, and  raising  his  eyes  to  heaven,  he  was  filled 
with  incomparable  delight,  and  rejoiced  greatly. 
Then  after  a  brief  moment's  interval  that  sweet 
and  savoury  rejoicing  is  turned  to  mournful  sadness. 
For  two  men,  who  were  standing  at  the  time  at 
the  door  of  his  hut,  which  was  built  on  a  somewhat 
raised  spot,  sharing  in  his  sadness,  one  being  Lugne 
Mocublai,  and  the  other  a  Saxon  [Englishman] 
called  Pilu,  inquire  the  cause  of  his  sudden  glad- 
ness and  that  subsequent  sorrow.  To  whom  the 
Saint  thus  speaks  :  "  Go  in  peace,  and  do  not  now 
ask  of  me  that  the  cause  either  of  that  joy  or  of 
that  sorrow  should  be  made  known  to  you."  On 
hearing  this,  kneeling,  in  tears,  with  faces  flat  on 
the  ground,  they  earnestly  beseech  him,  and  beg 
of  him  to  let  them  know  something  of  that  which 
had  been  revealed  to  the  Saint  in  the  same  hour. 
And  seeing  them  greatly  saddened,  he  says  : 
"  Because  I  love  you  I  am  loath  you  should  be 
sad.  Ye  must  first  promise  not  to  disclose  to  any 
man  during  my  life  the  secret  which  ye  ask  about." 
And  they  immediately  and  readily  promised,  accord- 


222         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

ing  to  his  injunction.  And  after  this  promise,  the 
venerable  man  thus  speaks  to  them,  saying :  "  At 
this  present  day,  one  score  and  ten  years  of  my 
sojourn  in  Britain  are  completed.  Meanwhile,  for 
many  days  past,  I  have  devoutly  asked  my  Lord 
that  at  the  end  of  this  present  thirtieth  year  He 
would  release  me  from  my  sojourn  here  and  call  me 
at  once  to  my  heavenly  country.  And  this  was  the 
cause  of  my  rejoicing,  about  which  you,  in  sorrow, 
are  asking  me.  For  I  saw  holy  angels,  sent  from 
the  throne  on  high  to  meet  me,  and  lead  forth  my 
soul  from  the  flesh.  But,  lo  !  they  have  now  been 
suddenly  stopped,  and  are  standing  on  a  rock  on 
the  other  side  of  the  Sound  of  our  island,  desirous 
to  approach  and  call  me  away  from  the  body. 
But  they  are  not  permitted  to  come  nearer,  and 
must  soon  return  to  heaven  above,  for  that  which 
the  Lord  granted  to  me,  after  praying  with  all  my 
might,  namely,  that  on  this  day  I  should  pass  away 
from  the  world  to  Him,  now,  quicker  than  words, 
He  has  altered,  yielding  to  the  prayers  of  many 
Churches  for  me.  And  to  these  Churches,  that 
have  been  thus  praying,  it  has  been  granted  by 
the  Lord,  though  against  my  will,  that  four  years 
from  this  day  onward  are  added  to  my  sojourn  in 
the  flesh.  This,  to  me,  sad  delay  was — not  without 
reason — the  cause  of  my  sorrow  to-day.  And 
when,  please  God,  these  four  years  yet  to  come  in 
this  life  are  ended,  my  passing  away  shall  be  sudden, 
without  any  previous  bodily  illness,  and  I  shall  de- 
part, rejoicing,  to  the  Lord  in  company  of  the  Holy 
Angels  who  will  then  meet  me." 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         223 

According  to  these  words,  which,  as  it  is  said,  the 
venerable  man  uttered  not  without  much  sighing 
and  sorrow,  and  even  with  very  many  tears,  he 
remained  in  the  flesh  for  four  years  more. 

NOTE 

The  event  narrated  in  this  chapter  occurred  in  a.d. 
593,  thirty  years  after  Columba's  settlement  in  Iona. 


XXIII 

OF    THE    PASSING    AWAY    TO    THE    LORD    OF    OUR 
HOLY  PATRON,   COLUMBA. 

Towards  the  end  of  the  above-mentioned  four 
years,  after  the  completion  of  which,  like  a  true 
prophet,  he  knew  from  long  before  that  the  end  of  his 
present  life  was  to  come,  one  day  in  the  month  of 
May,  as  we  have  already  written  in  the  second  book 
(chap,  xxviii.),  the  old  man,  weary  with  age,  is  borne 
on  a  wagon  and  goes  to  visit  the  Brethren  while  at 
their  work.  And  while  they  are  busy  in  the  western 
part  of  the  isle  of  Iona,  he  began  on  that  day  to 
speak  thus  :  "  During  the  Easter  festival  just  over 
in  April,  'with  desire  I  have  desired'  [St.  Luke 
xxii.  15]  to  pass  away  to  Christ  the  Lord,  as  He 
had  even  granted  to  me  if  I  liked.  But,  lest  your 
festival  of  joy  should  be  turned  into  sadness,  I  pre- 
ferred that  the  day  of  my  departure  from  the 
world  should  be  put  off  a  little  longer."  The 
monks  of  his  household  were  greatly  afflicted 
whilst  they  heard  these  sad  words  of  his,  and  he 
began  to  cheer  them  as  far  as  he  could  with  words 


224         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

of  consolation.  At  the  close  of  which,  sitting  just 
as  he  was  in  the  wagon,  turning  his  face  eastward 
he  blessed  the  island,  with  its  islanders.  And  from 
that  day  to  this,  as  is  recorded  in  the  above-men- 
tioned book  [II.  xxviii.],  the  poison  of  the  thrice 
cloven  tongues  of  vipers  has  been  powerless  to  do 
any  manner  of  harm  to  man  or  beast.  After  those 
words  of  blessing  the  Saint  is  carried  back  to  his 
monastery. 

Then,  after  a  few  days,  while  the  solemnity  of  the 
Mass  was  being  celebrated,  according  to  custom,  on 
the  Lord's  Day,  suddenly,  with  eyes  raised  heaven- 
wards, the  countenance  of  the  venerable  man  is 
seen  to  be  suffused  with  a  ruddy  glow,  for,  as  it 
is  written  :  "  When  the  heart  is  glad  the  counte- 
nance blossoms"  [Frov.  xv.  13].  For  in  that  hour 
he  alone  saw  an  Angel  of  the  Lord  hovering 
above  within  the  walls  of  his  oratory,  and  be- 
cause the  lovely  and  tranquil  aspect  of  the  holy 
Angels  sheds  joy  and  gladness  in  the  breasts 
of  the  elect,  this  was  the  cause  of  that  sudden 
joy  infused  into  the  blessed  man.  When  those 
who  were  there  present  inquired  what  was  the 
cause  of  the  gladness  thus  inspired,  the  Saint, 
gazing  upward,  gave  them  this  reply  :  "Wonderful 
and  incomparable  is  the  subtlety  of  the  angelic 
nature.  For  behold  !  an  Angel  of  the  Lord  was  sent 
to  fetch  a  certain  deposit,  dear  to  God,  and  after 
looking  down  upon  us  and  blessing  us  within  the 
church,  has  returned  again  through  the  roof  of  the 
church,  and  has  left  no  trace  of  his  passing  out." 
Thus  spoke  the  Saint.  But  not  one  of  the  bystanders 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         225 

was  able  to  understand  the  nature  of  that  deposit 
which  the  Angel  was  sent  to  claim.  But  our  patron 
gave  the  name  of  a  "holy  deposit"  to  his  own  soul, 
which  had  been  entrusted  to  him  by  God.  And 
as  wall  be  narrated  below,  this  soul,  after  an  interval 
of  six  days  from  that  time,  on  the  night  of  the  next 
Lord's  Day  passed  away  to  the  Lord. 

And  so  at  the  end  of  the  same  week,  that  is  on 
the  Sabbath  day  [Saturday],  he  and  his  dutiful 
attendant,  Diormit,  go  to.  bless  the  granary  which 
was  near  by.  And  on  entering  it,  when  the  Saint 
had  blessed  it  and  two  heaps  of  corn  stored 
up  in  it,  he  uttered  these  words  with  giving  of 
thanks,  saying  :  "  Greatly  do  I  congratulate  the 
monks  of  my  household  that  this  year,  also,  if  I 
should  perchance  have  to  depart  from  you,  you 
will  have  enough  for  the  year  without  stint."  And 
hearing  this  word  Diormit,  the  attendant,  began  to- 
be  sorrowful,  and  to  speak  thus  :  "  Often  dost  thou 
make  us  sad,  Father,  at  this  time  of  the  year, 
because  thou  dost  make  mention  so  often  of  thy 
passing  away."  To  whom  the  Saint  made  this 
answer :  "  I  have  a  certain  little  secret  chat  to 
hold  with  thee,  and  if  thou  wilt  firmly  promise  me 
to  disclose  it  to  no  one  before  my  death,  I  shall 
be  able  to  tell  thee  something  more  clearly  as  to 
my  going  hence."  And  when  the  attendant,  on 
bended  knees,  had  finished  making  this  promise 
according  to  the  Saint's  wish,  the  venerable  man 
thereupon  thus  speaks  :  "  In  the  Sacred  Volumes 
this  day  is  called  the  Sabbath,  which  is,  interpreted, 
Rest.     And  this  day  is  truly  a  Sabbath  day  for  me, 

Q 


226         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

because  it  is  for  me  the  last  day  of  this  present 
laborious  life,  on  which  I  rest  after  the  fatigues  of 
my  labours  ;  and  this  night,  at  midnight,  when 
begins  the  solemn  day  of  the  Lord,  according  to 
the  saying  of  the  Scriptures,  I  shall  go  the  way 
of  my  fathers  [Jos.  xxiii.  14  ;  1  Kings  ii.  2].  For 
already  my  Lord  Jesus  Christ  deigns  to  invite  me, 
to  Whom,  I  say,  in  the  middle  of  this  night,  He 
Himself  inviting  me,  I  shall  depart.  For  so  it 
has  been  revealed  to  me  by  the  Lord  Himself." 
Hearing  these  sad  words,  the  attendant  began  to 
weep  bitterly.  And  the  Saint  tried  to  console  him 
as  well  as  he  could. 

After  this  the  Saint  goes  out  of  the  granary,  and, 
returning  to  the  monastery,  sits  down  half-way  at 
the  place  where  afterwards  a  cross,  fixed  in  a  mill- 
stone, and  standing  to  this  day,  is  to  be  seen  at  the 
roadside.  And  while  the  Saint,  weary  with  age  as 
I  have  said,  rested  there,  sitting  for  a  little  while, 
behold  the  white  horse,  a  faithful  servant,  runs  up 
to  him,  the  one  which  used  to  carry  the  milk  pails 
to  and  fro  between  the  byre  and  the  monastery. 
He,  coming  up  to  the  Saint,  wonderful  to  tell,  lays 
his  head  against  his  breast — inspired,  as  I  believe, 
by  God,  by  whose  dispensation  every  animal  has 
sense  to  perceive  things  according  as  its  Creator 
Himself  has  ordained — knowing  that  his  master  was 
soon  about  to  leave  him,  and  that  he  would  see  him 
no  more,  began  to  whinny  and  to  shed  copious 
tears  into  the  lap  of  the  Saint  as  though  he  had 
been  a  man,  and  weeping  and  foaming  at  the 
mouth.     And  the  attendant,  seeing  this,  began  to 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         227 

drive  away  the  weeping  mourner,  but  the  Saint 
forbade  him,  saying  :  "  Let  him  alone,  let  him 
alone,  for  he  loves  me.  Let  him  pour  out  the 
tears  of  his  bitter  lamentation  into  this  my  bosom. 
Lo  !  now,  thou,  man  as  thou  art,  and  possessing  a 
rational  soul,  couldst  in  no  wise  know  anything 
about  my  departure  hence  save  what  I  myself 
have  just  now  told  thee  :  but  to  this  brute  beast, 
devoid  of  reason,  the  Creator  Himself  has  clearly 
in  some  way  revealed  that  his  master  is  about  to 
go  away  from  him."  And  so  saying,  he  blessed 
his  servant  the  horse  as  it  sadly  turned  to  go  away 
from  him. 

And  then,  going  on  and  ascending  the  knoll  that 
overlooks  the  monastery,  he  stood  for  a  little  while 
on  its  top,  and  there  standing  and  raising  both 
hands  he  blessed  his  monastery,  saying  :  "  Upon 
this  place,  small  though  it  be,  and  mean,  not  only 
the  kings  of  the  Scotic  people  [i.e.  the  Irish  of  Ire- 
land and  Britain],  with  their  peoples,  but  also  the 
rulers  of  barbarous  and  foreign  races,  with  the  people 
subject  to  them,  shall  confer  great  and  no  common 
honour  :  by  the  Saints  also  even  of  other  churches 
shall  no  common  reverence  be  accorded  to  it." 

After  these  words,  coming  down  from  the  knoll 
and  returning  to  the  monastery,  he  sat  in  his  hut 
transcribing  the  Psalter  ;  and  coming  to  that  verse 
of  the  thirty-third  Psalm,  where  it  is  written:  "But 
they  that  seek  the  Lord  shall  not  want  any  good 
thing"  [Ps.  xxxiii.  11  in  Vulgate].  "Here",  he 
says,  "  I  must  stop  at  the  foot  of  this  page,  and 
what  follows  let  Baithene  write." 


228         LIFE    OF    SAINT   COLUMBA 

The  last  verse  which  he  had  written  is  very 
applicable  to  the  dying  Saint,  to  whom  the  good 
things  of  eternity  shall  never  be  lacking ;  and  the 
verse  which  follows  is  indeed  very  suitable  to  the 
Father  who  succeeded  him  and  was  the  teacher  of 
his  spiritual  sons,  namely :  "  Come,  ye  children, 
hearken  unto  me  :  I  will  teach  you  the  fear  of  the 
Lord."  And  he,  Baithene,  as  his  predecessor  re- 
commended, succeeded  him  not  only  as  teacher, 
but  also  as  a  writer. 

After  transcribing  the  verse  at  the  end  of  the 
page,  as  above  mentioned,  the  Saint  enters  the 
church  for  the  vesper  mass  of  the  vigil  of  the 
Lord's  Day,  and  as  soon  as  this  is  over,  he  returns 
to  his  cell  and  sits  up  throughout  the  night  on  his 
bed,  where  he  had  the  bare  rock  for  pallet  and  a 
stone  for  pillow,  which  to  this  day  stands  by  his 
grave  as  his  monumental  pillar.*  And  so,  there 
sitting  up,  he  gives  his  last  commands  to  the 
Brethren,  his  attendant  alone  hearing  them,  say- 
ing :  "  These  my  last  words  I  commend  to  you, 
O  my  sons,  that  ye  have  mutual  and  unfeigned 
charity  among  yourselves,  with  peace :  and  if, 
according  to  the  example  of  the  holy  Fathers,  ye 
shall  observe  this,  God,  the  Comforter  of  the  good, 
will  help  you ;  and  I,  abiding  with  Him,  will  inter- 
cede for  you  ;  and  not  only  will  the  necessaries  of 
this  present  life  be  sufficiently  supplied  by  Him, 
but  the  rewards  of  the  good  things  of  Eternity, 
prepared  for  those  who  keep  His  Divine  command- 
ments, shall  also  be  bestowed." 

Thus  far,  told  in  brief  narrative,  are  put  down 

*  See  illustration  on  p.  186. 


LIFE    OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         229 

the  last  words  of  our  venerable  patron  as  he  was 
passing  away  from  this  weary  pilgrimage  to  the 
heavenly  country. 

After  which,  as  the  happy  last  hour  gradually 
approached,  the  Saint  was  silent.  Then,  when  the 
bell  began  to  toll  at  midnight,  rising  in  haste  he 
goes  to  the  church,  and  running  faster  than  the 
others  he  enters  it  alone,  and  on  bended  knees 
falls  down  in  prayer  at  the  altar.  At  the  same 
moment  Diormit,  his  attendant,  who  followed 
more  slowly,  sees  from  a  distance  the  whole 
church  filled  within  with  Angelic  light  round  about 
the  Saint.  And  as  he  drew  near  to  the  door, 
the  same  light  which  he  had  seen  suddenly  with- 
drew, and  this  light  a  few  others  of  the  Brethren 
who  stood  afar  off  also  saw.  Diormit,  therefore, 
entering  the  church,  moans  out  with  mournful 
voice  :  "  Where  art  thou,  Father  ? "  And  as  the 
lights  of  the  Brethren  had  not  yet  been  brought 
in,  groping  his  way  in  the  dark  he  finds  the  Saint 
lying  before  the  altar,  and  raising  him  up  a  little 
and  sitting  down  by  him  he  lays  the  holy  head  on 
his  bosom.  And  meanwhile  the  community  of 
monks,  running  up  with  lights,  began  to  weep  at 
the  sight  of  their  dying  Father.  And  as  we  have 
learned  from  some  who  were  there  present,  the 
Saint,  his  soul  not  yet  departing,  with  open  eyes 
upturned,  looked  round  about  on  either  side  with 
wonderful  cheerfulness  and  joy  of  countenance 
on  seeing  the  holy  Angels  coming  to  meet  him 
Diormit  then  lifts  up  the  holy  right  hand  of  the 
Saint  that  he  may  bless  the  choir  of  monks.     But 


230         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

the  venerable  Father  himself  at  the  same  time 
moved  his  hand  as  much  as  he  was  able,  so  that 
what  was  impossible  to  him  to  do  with  his  voice  at 
his  soul's  departure  he  might  still  do  by  the  move- 
ment of  his  hand,  namely,  give  his  blessing  to  the 
Brethren.  And  after  thus  signifying  his  holy  bene- 
diction, immediately  breathed  forth  his  spirit. 
And  it  having  left  the  tabernacle  of  the  body,  the 
face  remained  so  ruddy  and  wonderfully  gladdened 
by  the  vision  of  the  Angels  that  it  seemed  not  to 
be  that  of  one  dead,  but  of  one  living  and  sleep- 
ing. Meanwhile,  the  whole  church  resounded  with 
sorrowful  wailings. 

But,  it  seems,  I  should  not  omit  to  mention  what 
in  the  same  hour  of  the  passing  away  of  that  blessed 
soul  was  revealed  to  a  certain  Saint  in  Ireland. 
For  in  that  monastery  which  in  the  Irish  tongue  is 
called  Cloni-fmchoil  ["  The  meadow  of  the  white 
Hazel "  :  perhaps  Rosnarea,  on  the  Boyne],  there 
was  a  certain  holy  man,  a  veteran  soldier  of  Christ, 
just  and  wise,  who  was  named  Lugud,  son  of 
Tailchan.  Now  this  man  early  in  the  morning, 
with  great  sorrow,  narrated  to  one  who  like  himself 
was  a  soldier  of  Christ,  Fergno  by  name,  a  vision 
of  his,  saying  :  "In  the  middle  of  the  past  night 
the  holy  Columba,  pillar  of  many  churches,  passed 
away  to  the  Lord  ;  and  in  the  hour  of  his  blessed 
departure  I  saw  in  spirit  the  island  of  Iona,  to 
which  I  have  never  been  in  the  body,  all  resplendent 
with  the  brightness  of  Angels,  and  the  whole  space 
of  the  sky,  up  to  the  heaven  of  heavens,  illumined 
by  the  splendour  of  the  same.     Angels  were  sent 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         231 

from  heaven,  and  came  down  in  troops  to  bear 
upward  his  holy  soul.  High-sounding  hymns  also, 
and  exceeding  sweet  canticles  of  the  Angelic  Hosts, 
did  I  hear  in  the  same  moment  that  his  holy  soul 
departed  amidst  the  angelic  choirs  as  they  soared 
on  high.  Virgno  [i.e.  Fergno],  who  rowed  over  in 
those  days  from  Ireland  and  remained  for  the  rest 
of  the  days  of  his  life  in  the  isle  of  Hinba  [Eilean- 
na-Naoimh  ?],  used  often  to  narrate  to  the  monks  of 
St.  Columba  this  angelic  vision,  which,  as  aforesaid, 
he  had  undoubtedly  heard  from  the  lips  of  that 
aged  Saint  to  whom  it  had  been  revealed.  And 
this  same  Virgno,  after  many  years  passed  blame- 
lessly and  in  obedience  among  the  Brethren, 
completed  twelve  more  years  in  a  place  of  anchor- 
ites in  Muirbulcmar  [?  Hinba],  leading  the  life  of 
an  anchorite  as  a  victorious  soldier  of  Christ.  This 
above-mentioned  vision  we  have  not  only  found 
recorded  in  books,  but  we  have  without  any  mis- 
take learned  it  from  several  well  informed  aged 
men  to  whom  Virgnous  himself  had  told  it. 

At  the  same  hour  also  another  vision,  revealed  in 
another  guise,  a  soldier  of  Christ,  one  of  those  who 
witnessed  it,  related  with  solemn  attestation  to  me, 
Adamnan,  at  that  time  a  youth.  He  was  a  very  old 
man,  whose  name  may  be  rendered  as  "  Ferreolus," 
but  in  Irish  Ernene  [diminutive  of  Iarn,  iron\  of 
the  clan  Mocufirroide,  who,  himself  also  a  holy 
monk,  is  buried  in  the  Ridge  of  Tomma  [Drum- 
home,  in  Donegal]  among  the  remains  of  other 
monks  of  St.  Columba,  awaiting  the  resurrection 
of  the  Saints.     He  said  :  "  On  that  night  on  which 


232         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

St.  Columba,  by  a  happy  and  blessed  end,  passed 
away  from  earth  to  heaven,  I  and  other  men  with 
me,  while  at  work  catching  fish  in  the  valley  of  the 
fish-abounding  river  Fend  [the  Finn,  in  Donegal], 
saw  the  whole  expanse  of  the  sky  suddenly  illumi- 
nated ;  and,  struck  by  the  suddenness  of  this 
miracle,  we  turned  our  upraised  eyes  to  the  east, 
and  lo  !  there  appeared  as  it  were  an  immense 
pillar  of  fire,  which,  rising  upwards  at  that  mid- 
night hour,  seemed  to  us  so  to  lighten  the  whole 
world,  just  as  does  the  summer  and  meridian  sun  ; 
and,  just  as  after  the  setting  of  the  sun,  so,  after 
that  pillar  had  penetrated  the  heavens,  darkness 
followed.  And  not  only  did  we  who  were  there 
together  at  the  same  place  see  with  exceeding 
great  wonder  the  brightness  of  this  luminous  and 
wonderful  pillar,  but  many  other  fishermen  also, 
who  were  scattered  fishing  in  various  pools  of  the 
same  river,  as  they  afterwards  told  us,  were  greatly 
terror-struck  at  the  sight  of  the  like  apparition. 

The  miracles,  therefore,  of  these  three  visions, 
appearing  at  that  hour  of  the  passing  away  of 
our  venerable  patron,  bear  witness  to  the  eternal 
honours  conferred  upon  him  by  the  Lord. 

Let  us  return  now  to  our  main  subject. 

Meanwhile,  after  the  departure  of  his  holy  soul, 
the  matin  hymns  being  ended,  the  sacred  body  is 
carried  with  melodious  psalmody  from  the  church 
to  the  house,  whence,  a  little  while  before,  he  had 
come  alive ;  and  for  three  days  and  as  many  nights 
his  honourable  obsequies  are  performed  with  due 
observance.     And  these  being  ended  with  sweet 


LIFE   OF   SAINT    COLUMBA         233 

praises  of  God,  the  venerable  body  of  our  holy 
and  blessed  patron,  wrapped  in  a  fair  shroud  and 
placed  in  the  tomb  prepared  for  it,  is  buried  with 
due  reverence,  to  rise  again  in  resplendent  and 
eternal  brightness. 

Now,  near  the  close  of  this  book,  shall  be  narrated 
what  has  been  handed  down  to  us  by  well-informed 
persons  concerning  those  above-mentioned  three 
days'  obsequies,  which  were  carried  out  in  the 
usual  ecclesiastical  form.  For,  indeed,  on  one 
occasion  a  certain  one  of  the  Brethren,  speaking 
in  all  simplicity  in  the  presence  of  the  venerable 
man,  says  to  the  Saint  :  "  After  thy  death  all  the 
people  of  these  provinces  will  sail  across  hither, 
and  fill  this  isle  of  Iona."  And,  hearing  these 
words,  the  Saint  thereupon  says  :  "  O  my  child, 
the  event  will  not  prove  to  be  as  thou  dost  say,  for 
a  promiscuous  crowd  of  common  people  will  by 
no  means  be  able  to  come  to  my  obsequies.  Only 
the  monks  of  my  house  will  perform  my  burial 
rites,  and  honour  my  funeral  offices."  Which 
prophetic  saying  of  his  the  omnipotence  of  God 
caused  to  be  fulfilled  immediately  after  his  passing 
away,  for,  during  those  three  days  and  nights  of 
the  obsequies,  there  arose  a  great  tempest  of  wind 
without  rain  which  effectually  prevented  anyone  in 
a  boat  from  crossing  over  the  Sound  hither  from 
the  other  shore.  And  after  the  burial  of  the 
blessed  man  was  over,  the  tempest  was  at  once 
stayed,  and  the  wind  ceased,  and  the  whole  sea 
became  calm. 

Let  the  reader  consider  how  great  and  singular 


234         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

is  the  honour  our  illustrious  patron  enjoys  in  the 
sight  of  God,  to  whom  at  times  when  he  abode  in 
mortal  flesh  God  granted  at  his  prayer  that  storms 
should  be  stilled  and  seas  made  calm  ;  and  again 
when  there  was  need,  as  on  the  above-named 
occasion,  at  the  close  of  his  funeral  rites,  as  afore 
mentioned,  gales  of  wind  arose,  and  the  billowy 
waters  were  lashed  by  the  hurricane,  and  were 
presently  changed  into  a  great  calm. 

Such,  then,  was  the  end  of  our  illustrious  patron's 
life,  and  these  the  first  instances  of  his  meritorious 
intervention.  To  use  the  words  of  Scripture,  he 
shares  in  eternal  triumphs  ;  he  is  linked  with  the 
Apostles  and  Prophets  ;  he  is  joined  to  the  number 
of  the  white-robed  thousands  of  Saints  who  have 
washed  their  robes  in  the  Blood  of  the  Lambkin  ; 
he  follows  the  Lamb  whithersoever  He  leadeth;  he 
is  a  virgin  without  spot,  free  from  all  stain,  through 
the  favour  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  Himself,  to 
Whom,  with  the  Father,  is  honour,  power,  praise, 
glory,  and  everlasting  rule,  in  the  Unity  of  the 
Holy  Spirit,  for  ever  and  ever. 

After  reading  these  little  books,  let  each  diligent 
reader  take  note  of  how  great  and  singular  merit 
was  the  so  oft-named  holy  Abbot ;  in  how  great 
and  singular  honour  he  was  accounted  in  the  sight 
of  God ;  how  great  and  how  singular  were  those 
bright  and  frequent  angel-visits  made  to  him  ;  how 
great  was  his  gift  of  prophecy  ;  how  great  the 
efficacy  of  Divine  graces ;  how  great  and  how 
frequent  the  sheen  of  the  Divine  light  that  shone 
round   about  him   while   he   was  abiding  in   this 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         235 

mortal  flesh  ;  and  even  after  the  departure  of  his 
sweet  soul  from  the  tabernacle  of  its  body,  as  was 
shown  to  some  chosen  witnesses,  this  same  heavenly 
brightness  and  frequent  visits  of  Angels  do  not  to 
this  day  cease  to  haunt  the  place  where  his  sacred 
bones  repose.  And  this  great  favour  has  also  been 
granted  to  this  same  man  of  blessed  memory,  that, 
although  he  lived  in  this  small  and  remote  isle  of 
the  British  Ocean,  his  name  has  deserved  to  be 
honourably  made  known,  not  only  throughout  the 
whole  of  our  Ireland  and  Britain,  largest  of  the 
islands  of  the  whole  world,  but  to  reach  even  as 
far  as  triangular  Spain,  and  the  Gauls,  and  Italy, 
that  lies  beyond  the  Pennine  Alps,  even  to  the 
City  of  Rome  itself,  wh  ch  is  the  head  of  all  cities. 
So  great  and  so  singular  is  the  remarkable  honour 
known,  among  other  marks  of  Divine  favour,  to 
have  been  conferred  upon  this  Saint  by  God,  Who 
loves  those  who  love  Him,  and  glorifies  more  and 
more  those  who  glorify  Him  with  sweet  Lauds,  and 
lifts  them  up  on  high  to  honours  unbounded,  Who 
is  blessed  for  evermore.     Amen. 

I  beseech  those,  whoever  they  may  be,  who  wish 
to  transcribe  these  books — yea,  rather,  I  charge 
them,  by  Christ  the  Eternal  Judge — that,  after  they 
have  diligently  transcribed  them,  they  compare 
and  correct  them  with  all  carefulness  with  the  copy 
from  which  they  have  written  ;  and  that  they  also 
transcribe  this  charge  in  this  place  : — 

WHOSOEVER  READS  THESE  BOOKS  OF  THE 
MIRACLES  OF  COLUMBA,  LET  HIM  PRAY 
GOD  FOR  ME,  DORBBENE,  THAT  AFTER 
DEATH   I   MAY   POSSESS   ETERNAL  LIFE. 


236         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 


NOTES  TO  CHAPTER  XXIII 

During  the  Easter  festival  last  April 

Easter  Day  fell  on  April  14th  in  597,  the  year  of 
St.  Columba's  death. 

When  the  heart  is  glad,  etc. 

Prov.  xv.  13.  This  version  is  not  from  the  Vulgate, 
which  has,  "A  glad  heart  maketh  a  cheerful  counte- 
nance." The  quotation  in  the  text  may  be  from  memory 
only. 

At  the  end  of  the  same  week,  that  is  on  the  Sabbath  day 

Our  Saturday.  Saturday  is  still  Sabbath  in  the  service 
books  of  the  Catholic  Church  and  in  correct  English. 

At  the  place  where  afterwards  a  cross  fixed  in  a  ?nillstone 
is  to  be  seen 

The  cross  known  as  Maclean's  Cross,  in  Iona,  is  the 
only  one  now  remaining  in  the  island  whose  position 
corresponds  to  the  description  in  the  text.  Mr.  H.  D. 
Graham  (in  "Antiquities  of  Iona",  1850)  says:  "To 
the  south  of  the  Cathedral  there  is  a  cross  of  a  very 
ancient  date.  It  is  of  one  stone  about  eleven  feet  in 
height,  including  the  pedestal.  It  is  of  the  hardest 
whin-rock,  and  though  it  has  the  appearance  of  great 
age,  it  is  but  little  impaired.  This  cross  is  of  a  different 
form  and  apparently  of  a  different  era  from  any  other  in 
the  Highlands." 

Ascending  the  hill  that  overlooks  the  monastery 

The  original  monastery  was  about  three  hundred  yards 
to  the  north  of  the  mediaeval  ruins,  and  the  hill  here  men- 
tioned was  probably  the  rocky  knoll  called  Cnoc-na- 
bristeadh-clach,  which  is  just  outside  the  remains  of  the 
Vallum. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         237 

Upon  this  place  .  .  .  kings  .  .  .  shall  confer  honour 

Iona  was,  in  fact,  the  chosen  burial  place  of  many 
illustrious  kings.  It  is  stated  in  the  Scotichronicon  that 
the  monastery  of  the  monks  of  Iona  was  "the  burial 
place  and  the  royal  seat  of  almost  all  the  Scotic  and 
Pictish  kings  to  the  time  of  King  Malcolm,  the  husband 
of  St.  Margaret"  (she  died  1093).  Sir  D.  Monro,  who 
was  High  Dean  of  the  Isles,  and  visited  most  of  them 
in  1549,  mentions  "three  tombes  of  staine  formit  like 
little  chapels "  as  existing  in  the  cemetery,  Reilig  Oran 
of  Iona,  inscribed  respectively  in  Latin  as  Tomb  of  the 
Kings  of  Scotia,  Hybernia  and  Norwegia  ;  48  Scottish, 
4  Irish  and  8  Norwegian  kings,  says  Sir  Donald,  "ac- 
cording to  our  Scotts  and  Erische  cronikels ",  are  there 
buried. 

Vesper  mass 

The  word  Mass  is  here  applied  to  the  Evensong. 
The  Sacrifice  of  the  Mass  proper  was  celebrated  only  in 
the  morning. 

A  stone  for  pillow 

A  stone  marked  with  a  cross,  and  exactly  of  a  form 
suitable  for  a  pillow,  is  still  shown  at  Iona  as  that  of 
St.  Columba.  It  was  found  by  Mr.  Alexander  M'Gregor 
within  twenty  yards  of  the  large  boulder  of  granite 
under  which  St.  Columba  was  said  to  have  been  buried. 
A  part  of  the  stone  was  broken  off  by  a  farmer's  cart 
passing  over  it.  A  cross  is  incised  upon  it.  Mr. 
Drummond  was  inclined  to  regard  this  stone  as  possibly 
the  pillow  stone  referred  to  here  by  Adamnan.  It  is 
now  in  the  Abbey.  In  the  Septuagint  (Genesis  xxxi. 
45)  the  Greek  is  koX  ecrrrjaev  avrbv  arr]\r]p}  rendered  in 
the  Vulgate  "Et  erexit  ilium  in  titulum." 

Two  other  similar  stones  are  known,  one  found  at 
Coldstone,  Aberdeenshire,  and  another  one  near  the 
Cathedral  in  Iona.  Of  them  Mr.  Joseph  Anderson,  in 
Scotland  in  Early  Christian  Times,  1881,  says  that 
they  belong  to  an  earlier  type  than  the  more  decorated 


238         LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA 

monuments,  being  the  plainest  and  simplest  monuments 
which  it  is  possible  to  conceive — stones  unshaped  and 
unerected,  and  merely  marked  with  the  symbol  of  the 
cross." 

It  would  appear  from  the  words  in  the  text  relating  to 
this  stone  and  the  grave  of  the  Saint,  that  at  least  a 
century  elapsed  before  his  remains  were  disinterred. 
They  were  enshrined,  however,  before  the  year  824,  as 
we  learn  from  Walafridus  Strabo's  (ninth  century)  verses 
on  the  Martyrdom  of  St.  Blaithmac  of  Iona  in  the 
Danish  invasion.  (See  Messingham's  Florilegiuvi  Insulce 
Sanctorum,  1624,  p.  402.)    (See  illustration  on  p.  186.) 

And  as  we  have  learned  from  some  who  were  there  present 

St.  Columba  died  in  597,  and  St.  Adamnan  was  born 
624,  so  that  the  information  of  eye-witnesses  was  quite 
easily  available  for  Adamnan. 

A  place  of  anchorites  in  Muirbulcmar 

Muirbulcmar  means  "sea-inlet  of  the  sea",  probably 
in  the  isle  of  Hinba,  which  is  now  generally  identified 
with  Eilean-na-Naoimh.  There  are  interesting  beehive 
cells  on  that  island,  one  of  which  may  well  have  been 
tenanted  by  Virgnous.  We  had  Muirbolc  Paradisi  in 
Book  I.  chapter  xii.  Adamnan  tells  us  that  Virgno 
remained  the  rest  of  his  life  after  the  twelve  years  spent 
with  the  Brethren  in  the  isle  of  Hinba,  and  a  few  lines 
further  on  tells  us  that  he  completed  twelve  years  more 
at  Muirbulcmar.  Muirbulcmar  was  certainly,  therefore, 
in  the  island  of  Hinba. 

The  place  in  which  his  sacred  bones  repose 

Thus  it  appears  that  during  a  century  at  least  after 
the  Saint's  death  his  remains  were  undisturbed.  In  the 
course  of  the  eighth  century  it  is  probable  that  his  bones 
were  disinterred  and  deposited  in  a  shrine.  The  shrine, 
as  Walafridus  Strabo  tells  us  in  his  verses  on  the 
Martyrdom  in  Iona  at  the  hands  of  the  Danes  of  St. 


LIFE   OF   SAINT   COLUMBA         239 

Blaithmac  (in  825),  was  the  chief  object  of  the  murder- 
ous Northmen's  search — 

Ad  sanctum  venere  patrem,  pretiosa  metalla 
Reddere  cogentes,  queis  Sancti  sancta  Columbse 
Ossa  jacent,  quam  quippe  suis  de  sedibus  arcam 
Tollentes  tumulo  terra  posuere  cavato, 
Cespite  sub  denso  gnari  jam  pestis  iniquae  : 
Hanc  praedam  cupiere  Dani. 

St.  Blaithmac  was  brutally  murdered  because  he  re- 
fused to  disclose  the  hiding-place. 


"  Blood  of  the  Lambkin  " 

A  bold  instance  of  the  Celtic  diminutive  of  endear- 
ment, so  characteristic  of  Adamnan's  style. 

Whosoever  reads  these  books 

It  was  the  custom  of  Irish  Scribes  thus  to  put  their 
names,  and  to  solicit  the  prayers  of  their  readers  at 
the  end  of  their  manuscripts.  Dorbbene,  the  writer  of 
this  one,  the  famous  Codex  A  now  in  the  public  library 
of  Schaffhausen,  was  Abbot  of  Iona,  and  died  in  the  year 
713,  only  nine  years  after  the  death  of  Adamnan.  The 
frontispiece  of  this  book  is  from  a  photograph  of  the  be- 
ginning of  the  manuscript  from  Dr.  Reeves's  facsimile. 


NOTES   TO   THE   ILLUSTRATIONS 

Map  of  Scotland,  A.D.  300-560 

Throughout  his  narrative  Adamnan,  when  speaking  of 
the  north-eastern  part  of  what  we  now  call  Ireland,  uses 
the  word  Scotia,  nowhere  applying  that  term  to  what  we 
now  call  Scotland. 

It  is  important  to  bear  in  mind  the  following  facts  : — 

(1)  The  Celtic  name  of  Northern  Britain  was  Alban,  or 
Albu.  Scotland  was  not  the  name  of  any  part  of  it 
until  about  A.D  930,  more  than  three  hundred  years  after 
the  time  of  St.  Columba. 

(2)  The  Latin  name  '  Scotia '  was  used  only  as  the 
name  of  Ireland,  also  called  Hibernia.  Both  names  are 
of  frequent  occurrence  in  Adamnan,  and  applied  ex- 
clusively to  Ireland. 

(3)  The  Irish  clan  Dalriada  (Dal-Araidhe)  in  posses- 
sion of  the  county  of  Antrim,  facing  the  great  pro- 
montory of  Kintyre  which  juts  out  towards  them  from 
North  Britain,  established  themselves,  in  the  beginning 
of  the  sixth  century,  if  not  earlier,  in  the  southern  part 
of  what  we  call  Argyleshire  ;  so  that  there  were  after 
that  date  the  Irish  and  the  Scottish  Dalriads,  or  to  speak 
more  correctly,  the  Scotic  Dalriada  and  the  Dalriada  of 
North  Britain.  This  division  of  the  Dalriads  is  thus 
chronicled  in  the  ancient  annals  :  '  The  Dal  Riada  were 
those  about  whom  there  was  a  contention  between  the 
men  of  Alba  and  the  men  of  Erin,  because  they  were 
both  of  the  race  of  Cairbre  Righfada,  that  is  of  the  men 
of  Munster.     For  upon  the  occasion  of  a  great  famine 

240 


NOTES  TO  THE   ILLUSTRATIONS     241 

which  came  upon  Munster  the  descendants  of  Cairbre 
Righfada  left  it,  and  one  party  of  them  went  to  Alba 
and  the  other  party  stayed  in  Erin,  from  whom  are  the 
Dalriada  at  this  day.' 

(4)  The  Picts  and  the  Britons,  Celtic  races,  were 
settled  in  North  Britain  before  the  Irish  came  in  from 
the  west  or  the  English  from  the  east.  Pictland  occupied 
the  greater  part  from  the  Firth  of  Forth  to  John-o'-Groat's 
and  beyond  to  the  Orkneys ;  and  on  the  west  the  island 
of  Skye  and  the  western  coast  line  as  far  as  the  southern 
limits  of  the  present  county  of  Inverness,  including  all 
or  most  of  the  island  of  Mull. 

(5)  The  Britons  were  settled  along  the  whole  western 
part  of  Britain  from  Dumbarton  on  the  Clyde  to 
Cornwall.  It  was  in  Columba's  time  that  the  continuity 
of  this  long  strip  of  British  land  was  broken  by  the 
victories  of  the  West  Saxons  at  Deorham  near  the 
Severn  in  577,  and  (not  long  after  Columba's  death)  of 
the  English  of  Bernicia  in  613. 

(6)  The  English  of  Bernicia  were  settled  east  of  the 
Britons  of  Strathclyde.  The  Bernician  kingdom  was 
established  by  King  Ida  in  549,  when  St.  Columba  was 
twenty-eight  years  old.  It  stretched  from  the  Tees  to  the 
Firth  of  Forth.  A  hundred  years  after  Ida,  King 
Edwin  fortified  the  rock  of  Edwin's  burg,  or  Edinburgh. 
Two  curious  facts  thus  become  clear,  namely,  that  the 
original  Scotia  was  Ireland,  and  the  name  of  the  capital 
of  Scotland  is  English. 

(7)  Thus  we  have  four  kingdoms  in  Northern  Britain 
in  the  time  of  St.  Columba  :  the  Picts,  the  Britons,  the 
English,  the  Dalriads.  It  is  with  the  Picts  and  the 
Dalriads  that  Adamnan's  narrative  is  chiefly  concerned. 
Dalriada  included  the  present  county  of  Argyle,  the 
islands  of  Jura  and  Islay  and  the  peninsula  of  Kintyre, 

R 


242     NOTES  TO  THE   ILLUSTRATIONS 

and  it  was  divided  from  the  great  kingdom  of  the  Picts 
by  the  mountain  range  of  Drum  Alban  (the  Grampians), 
often  referred  to  by  Adamnan  as  the  'Dorsum  Britannhe', 
the  'Backbone  of  Britain.'  The  first  great  step,  says 
Mr.  D.  W.  Rannie  {History  of  Scotland),  '  toward  the 
making  of  the  kingdom  of  Scotland  was  the  union  of 
the  Picts  and  Scots,  of  Pictland  and  Dalriada.  This 
great  event  was  led  up  to  and  largely  brought  about  by 
the  Mission  of  St.  Columba.' 


Book  I.  ch.  v. :  '  His  mother  church ' 
It  would  seem  from  Adamnan's  narrative,  and  es- 
pecially from  the  forty-fifth  chapter  of  Book  II.,  that  the 
buildings  of  St.  Columba's  monastery  on  Iona  were 
largely  constructed  of  timber,  and  we  have  but  little 
means  of  ascertaining  the  character  of  such  constructions. 
If,  however,  as  seems  likely,  some  of  the  buildings  were 
of  stone,  they  would  no  doubt  conform  in  type  to  the 
well-known  '  beehive  cells '  and  stone  oratories  of  the 
primitive  Irish  Church,  of  which  many  examples  remain 
in  Ireland  and  in  Scotland.  The  example  here  chosen 
to  illustrate  the  text  (assuming  that  the  church  of  the 
monastery  of  Iona  may  have  been  a  stone-built  one)  is 
the  famous  ancient  oratory  on  the  island  of  Inchcolm  in 
the  Firth  of  Forth.  It  is  irregular  in  plan,  the  boulders 
among  which  it  stands  preventing  symmetry,  and 
measures  only  21  feet  6  inches  in  its  greatest  length, 
and  6  feet  3  inches  in  its  greatest  width.  Professor 
Daniel  Wilson,  in  referring  to  this  little  building  in  his 
Prehistoric  Annals  of  Scotland,  II. ,  366,  says :  '  A 
common  origin  and  the  dialects  of  a  common  language 
united  the  Celtic  populations  of  Ireland  and  Scotland, 
and  the  evidence  of  the  wide  diffusion  of  Christianity 


NOTES  TO  THE  ILLUSTRATIONS    243 

among  the  Picts  and  Caledonians  by  the  disciples  of 
St.  Columba  is  indelibly  preserved  in  the  association  of 
their  names  with  a  thousand  local  memories  and  tradi- 
tions. .  .  .  While  the  primitive  oratories  of  the  first 
centuries  of  Scottish  Christianity  were  to  be  looked  for 
with  the  greatest  probability  among  the  Hebrides,  which 
abound  in  such  sites  as  were  most  in  favour  with  the 
ascetic  missionaries  of  the  new  faith,  it  is  within  sight  of 
the  Scottish  capital  that  one  of  the  oldest  memorials  of 
Scottish  architecture  has  been  discovered  ...  on  the 
island  of  Inchcolm,  on  which,  amid  ecclesiastical  ruins 
of  later  date,  a  rudely  arched  little  structure  has  long  been 
shown  as  the  cell  of  the  good  hermit  of  St.  Columba. 
Professor  J.  Y.  Simpson  demonstrated  its  correspondence 
to  some  of  the  most  ancient  oratories  associated  with  the 
primitive  Irish  evangelists,  and  submitted  a  series  of 
drawings  of  it  to  Dr.  Petrie,  of  Dublin,  who,  without 
any  knowledge  of  its  site  or  history,  at  once  pronounced 
the  building  to  be  a  "Columban  cell."  '  It  is  recorded  in 
Boece's  history  that  King  Alexander  I.  of  Scotland 
(1107-1124),  driven  on  the  island  by  a  storm,  found 
shelter  with  the  hermit.  The  King,  says  Boece,  was 
'  constraint  be  violent  tempest  to  remane  thre  dayes, 
sustenand  his  life  with  skars  fude,  be  ane  heremit  that 
dwelt  in  the  said  inche,  in  quhilk  he  had  ane  little  chapell 
dedicat  in  the  honour  of  Sanct  Colme.'  'But',  says 
Professor  Wilson,  '  we  may  now  recognise  in  this  homely 
shelter  of  royalty  an  oratory  of  greatly  older  date, 
erected  in  all  probability  by  one  of  the  earliest  disciples 
of  Saint  Columba  who  made  his  way  from  Iona  to  the 
eastern  territories  of  the  Picts.'  Among  other  early 
stone  monastic  cells  and  oratories  of  contemporary  date 
with  or  even  earlier  than  St.  Columba  are  the  Tigh 
Beannaichte,  or  '  Blessed  House ',  on  Gallon  Head  in  the 


244     NOTES  TO  THE   ILLUSTRATIONS 

Isle  of  Lewis ;  the  chapel  of  St.  Flann,  a  primitive  cell 
of  rude  polygonal  masonry  on  Eilean  Mor,  north  of  the 
island  of  Coll,  the  Teampull  Rona,  or  chapel  of  St. 
Ronan  or  Eilean  Rona,  and  the  Teampull  Sula  Sgeir  on 
the  little  island  of  the  latter  name.  All  of  these  have 
been  illustrated  by  Mr.  T.  S.  Muir  {Characteristics  of 
Old  Church  Architecture  in  the  Mainland  and  Western 
Isles  of  Scotland).  Dr.  Reeves  describes  a  little  chapel 
in  the  Isle  of  Skye  which  exhibits  such  obvious  character- 
istics of  the  earliest  type  of  native  Christian  architecture 
that  he  is  disposed  to  assign  it,  and  a  cyclopean  cashel 
beside  it,  if  not  to  St.  Columba  himself,  to  one  of  his 
disciples.  Other  buildings  of  the  same  class  exist  on 
Eilean  Naoimh  (the  Helant-leneou  of  the  chroniclers, 
and  probably  the  Hinba  and  Elena  island  of  Adamnan), 
a  small  uninhabited  island  off  the  coast  of  Argyle,  which 
Mr.  Cosmo  Innes  (in  Origines  Parochiales  Scotiae)  con- 
siders as  perhaps  the  oldest  vestiges  of  the  sort  now 
standing  in  Scotland.  '  The  crowd  of  low  buildings ', 
he  says,  '  has  all  the  appearance  of  a  monastic  establish- 
ment.' The  illustration  here  given  of  the  Inchcolm 
Oratory  is  from  Professor  J.  Y.  Simpson's  paper  upon  it. 

Bell  of  St.  Columba  (Book  I.  ch.  viii.) 

The  illustration  is  from  the  Bell  of  St.  Columba  in 
the  Dungannon  Collection.  Mr.  Wilson  (Prehistoric 
Annals  of  Scotland,  1863)  says  of  it  that  it  was  pre- 
served for  many  generations  in  the  family  of  the 
McGurks,  from  whose  ancestors  the  parish  of  Termon 
Maguirk,  in  the  county  of  Tyrone,  takes  its  name. 
This  bell  was  held  by  the  native  Irish,  even  of  the 
present  generation,  in  peculiar  veneration  ;  and  though 
usually  called  by   them   the   Clog-na-Choluimchille,   or 


NOTES  TO  THE   ILLUSTRATIONS     245 

Bell  of  St.  Columbkill,  it  also  bore  the  name  of  Dia 
Dioghaltus  ('God's  Vengeance'),  alluding  to  the  curse 
believed  to  fall  on  any  who  perjure  themselves  by 
swearing  falsely  on  it.  This  bell  was  used  until  very 
lately  throughout  the  county  of  Tyrone  in  cases  of 
solemn  asseveration.  Bells  were  among  the  most  vener- 
ated objects  of  the  primitive  Celtic  Church.  They  were 
introduced  by  the  first  Christian  missionaries,  and  sum- 
moned the  Brethren  of  Iona  to  prayer  while  yet  the 
'  gloriosum  ccenobium  '  of  the  sacred  isle  was  only  a 
few  wattled  huts.  The  reference  of  Adamnan  to  St. 
Columba's  bell,  when  he  had  notice  that  King  Aidan  was 
going  forth  to  battle,  sufficiently  indicates  its  use  (Book  I. 
ch.  viii.).  The  little  handbell  would  abundantly  suffice 
to  summon  together  the  band  of  pioneers  in  the  wilder- 
ness of  Iona.     It  is  u|  inches  in  height. 

St.  Patrick's  Bell 

This  ancient  bell,  rudely  made  of  hammered  iron, 
riveted,  and  coated  with  bronze,  is  7§  inches  in  height, 
including  the  handle,  and  it  is  contained  in  a  rich  shrine 
of  bronze,  gold,  and  silver,  exquisitely  decorated,  made 
for  the  bell  in  the  eleventh  century.  Long  before  that 
time  the  bell  was  regarded  with  extraordinary  reverence, 
and  attributed  to  St.  Patrick.  '  The  beauty,  rich- 
ness, and  intricacy  of  the  workmanship  of  the  shrine ', 
says  Mr.  Anderson  {Scotland  in  Early  Christian  Times , 
I.  202),  'disclose  to  us  the  taste  and  skill  prevailing 
at  the  time,  and  indicate  likewise  the  degree  of  venera- 
tion felt  for  the  rude  object  of  hammered  iron  to  which 
so  magnificent  a  work  of  art  was  given  as  a  covering. 
Bell  and  shrine  are  now  among  the  most  valued 
treasures  of  the  Museum  of  the  Royal  Irish  Academy.' 


246     NOTES  TO  THE  ILLUSTRATIONS 

The  Bachuill  Mor  (<  Big  Staff')  of  St.  Moloc 
(Book  II.  ch.  xiv.) 

This  ancient  staff  was  preserved  for  centuries  at  Lis- 
more,  and  is  now  in  the  possession  of  the  Duke  of 
Argyle.  It  is  slightly  curved,  and  nothing  remains  of 
its  once  costly  ornamentation,  added  to  it  probably  after 
the  death  of  the  Saint,  except  a  few  rivets  and  fragments 
of  copper  casing. 

'  The  right  of  curatorship  of  this  staff',  says  Dr.  Daniel 
Wilson  {Prehistoric  Annals  of  Scotland,  1863,  II.  479), 
'and  probably  also  of  bearing  it  before  the  bishops  of 
Argyle,  appears  to  have  been  hereditary,  and  conferred 
on  its  holders  the  popular  title  of  Barons  of  Bachuill, 
and  the  possession  of  a  small  freehold  estate,  which  re- 
mained in  the  hands  of  the  lineal  descendant  of  the  old 
staff-bearer  till  within  the  last  few  years.  This  estate 
was  latterly  held  under  a  deed  granted  by  the  Earl  of 
Argyle  in  1544,  the  ancient  crosier  being  preserved  in 
verification  of  the  right  till  it  was  recently  delivered  up 
in  return  for  new  titles  granted  in  order  to  enable  the 
late  owner,  the  last  of  his  race,  to  dispose  of  the  free- 
hold which  could  no  longer  descend  to  his  heirs. 

'The  original  charter  of  confirmation  grants,  "  Dilecto 
signiffero  nostro  Johanni  McMolmore  vie  Kevir,  et  here- 
dibus  suis  masculis  .  .  .  omnes  et  singulas  nostras  terras 
de  dimidietate  terrarum  de  Peynebachillen  et  Peynehallen 
...  in  Insula  de  Lismor,  cum  custodia  magni  baculi 
beati  Moloci.   .  .  ."' 

Ancient  Car  on  a  Sculptured  Stone  at  Meigle  in  Perth- 
shire (Book  II.  ch.  xliii. ) 
This  stone,  which  perished  in  the  burning  of  the  old 
church   in    1869,    was   one   of  many   remarkable   early 


NOTES  TO  THE  ILLUSTRATIONS     247 

sculptured  stones  at  that  place.  Those  which  remain 
are  now  preserved  in  the  old  school  house.  The  car 
here  shown  is  a  covered  car,  drawn  by  two  horses,  and 
in  a  description  of  the  monument  of  which  this  stone 
formed  a  portion,  written  in  1569,  it  is  said  that  it  was 
called  by  some  the  '  Thane  Stone ',  that  it  '  had  a  cross 
at  the  head  of  it  and  a  goddess  next  that  in  a  cart,  and 
two  horses  drawing  her,  and  horsemen  under  that  and 
footmen  and  dogs.5  And  the  writer  goes  on  to  say  that 
it  was  alleged  that  the  Thane  of  Glamis  set  there  that 
stone  and  another,  a  cross  curiously  graved,  'when 
that  country  was  all  a  great  forest.' 


Long,  hollowed-ont  boats  of  pine  and  oak 
(Book  II.  ch.  xlv.) 
Such  a  boat  as  those  here  described  was  discovered  in 
1886  at  Brigg,  in  Lincolnshire,  and  is  described  in  the 
fiftieth  volume  of  Archcsologia  by  Mr.  Alfred  Atkinson. 
It  was  found,  he  says,  during  the  excavation  of  a  pit  at 
the  Brigg  gasworks,  lying  at  a  depth  of  two  to  three 
feet  beneath  the  surface  of  the  ground,  and  at  right 
angles  to  the  old  channel  of  the  river  Ancholme.  The 
boat  is  made  out  of  one  immense  log  of  oak  which  has 
been  '  dug  out',  or  hollowed.  The  length  of  the  boat  is 
48  feet  6  inches,  and  the  width  from  4  feet  3  inches  at 
the  bows  to  4  feet  6  inches  at  the  stern,  with  an  outside 
depth  of  2  feet  8  inches  forward  and  3  feet  4  inches  aft. 
In  each  bow  there  is  a  hole  a  foot  in  diameter,  plugged 
up.  The  grain  of  the  wood  shows  that  these  holes  are 
the  places  where  the  first  great  branches  of  the  tree  grew. 
The  stern  is  formed  by  a  separate  board.  Mr.  Atkinson 
found  that  by  drawing  sections  of  the  boat  to  scale  the 
smallest  circumscribing  circle  at  the  stern  is  5  feet  4  inches 


248     NOTES  TO  THE   ILLUSTRATIONS 

in  diameter,  and  Mr.  W.  Stephenson,  of  Scarborough,  an 
authority  upon  trees  and  timber,  states  that  there  are  no 
large  trees  now  growing  in  England  that  can  compare 
in  size  with  the  enormous  tree  of  which  this  boat  was 
constructed.  There  are  trees  of  larger  diameter,  but  the 
length  of  the  trunk  is  much  less.  The  natural  habit  of 
oak  trees  is  to  throw  out  branches  within  a  few  feet  of 
the  ground,  and  it  is  only  when  growing  in  a  dense  forest 
closely  surrounded  by  other  trees  that  a  straight  stem 
shoots  up  to  such  a  height  devoid  of  branches.  Although 
it  is  probable  that  this  dug-out  boat  was  made  and  used 
in  pre-Roman  times,  it  is  just  such  boats,  hollowed  in 
just  such  a  manner,  as  would  no  doubt  have  formed  the 
freight  vessels  of  which  Adamnan  speaks  in  this  chapter. 
The  accompanying  illustration  is  drawn  from  Mr.  Atkin- 
son's paper  in  Archtzologia. 

Saint  Columba's  Pillow-stone  (Book  III.  ch.  xxiii.) 

This  rounded  granite  stone,  20  inches  long,  15^  inches 
broad,  was  found  by  Dr.  Alexander  McGregor  lying 
on  the  ground  about  150  yards  distant  from  the  Cladh- 
au-Diseart  ('  Burial  place  in  the  Desert '),  Iona,  and 
within  twenty  yards  of  the  large  granite  boulder  be- 
neath which,  according  to  tradition,  St.  Columba  was 
buried.  The  stone  is  sculptured  with  a  cross.  A  part 
of  the  upper  part  was  broken  off  by  the  wheel  of  a 
farmer's  cart  passing  over  it.  This  stone  is  now  pre- 
served in  the  Abbey  Church.  Mr.  James  Drummond, 
writing  about  it  in  1875  {Proceedings  of  the  Society  of 
Antiquaries  of  Scotland,  vol.  x.,  p.  615),  says  that  '  from 
its  shape  it  could  have  been  of  no  use  as  a  gravestone, 
but  it  might  have  been  used  to  lie  on  the  top  of  a 
grave ;  its  rounded  shape  would  not  have  prevented  this. 
The  only  use  to  which  I  could  imagine  such  a  stone 


NOTES  TO  THE    ILLUSTRATIONS     249 

really  to  have  been  put  would  be  to  place  it  in  a 
grave ;  and  my  conjecture  is  that  when  the  remains  of 
St.  Columba  were  enshrined  this  stone,  with  the  sacred 
emblem  carved  upon  it,  was  put  in  the  place  where  the 
Saint's  body  had  lain.'  Mr.  Joseph  Anderson,  however, 
called  Mr.  Drummond's  attention  to  the  passage  in 
Adamnan's  Life  of  Saint  Columba^  III.  xxiii.,  stating 
that  the  stone  used  by  St.  Columba  as  a  pillow  was 
set  up  by  his  grave  ;  and  Mr.  Drummond  then  goes  on 
to  say  :  '  Can  the  stone  be  the  pillow  to  which  Adamnan 
refers  ?  If  this  could  be  proved,  it  would  certainly  be  a 
stone  of  great  interest,  and  of  still  greater  interest  if  it 
could  also  be  shown  that  it  took  the  place  of  the  body  of 
the  Saint  when  it  was  removed.  It  is  certain  to  have  been 
a  relic  held  in  great  veneration.  Reeves  tells  us  that  the 
stone  pillow  of  St.  Kiaren  of  Clonmacnois  existed  in 
the  monastery  when  his  life  was  written,  and  was 
venerated  by  all.  A  still  more  worshipful  esteem  was 
sure  to  be  accorded  to  the  pillow  of  St.  Columba.' 

The  shape  and  size  of  the  stone,  and  the  fact  that  it 
was  found  near  the  Cladh-au-Diseart,  or  ancient  burial 
ground,  one  of  the  traditional  burial  places  of  St. 
Columba  (the  other  is  to  the  west  of  the  Abbey  Church), 
seem  to  favour  the  supposition  that  this  stone  is  the 
identical  pillow-stone  mentioned  by  Adamnan  in  this 
interesting  passage. 


INDEX 


INDEX 


Adamnan,  89 
Aedh,  King,  31 
Aedh,  "the  Black,"  62 
Aengus,  33 
Aethne,  St.  Columba's 

mother,  6,  188 
Aghaboe,  117 
Aidan,  King,  28,  193 
Aidan,  son  of  Fergno,  51 
Airchart-dan  (Glen  Urqu- 

hart),  208 
Aldfrid,    King   of    North- 

umbria,  183 
Alither,  Abbot,  20 
Amhra  Columbkille,  "The 

Praises  of  Columba,"  15 
Artbranan,  58 
Artchain,  monastery  in 

Tiree,  62 
Artdamuirchol,  32,  130 
Arthur,  son  of  Aidan,  29 
Awe,  Loch,  56 

Bachuill  Mor,  St.  Moloc's 

staff,  98 
Baithene,   17,  40,  45,  47, 

55»   65,  73,    120,   200, 

215,  227 
Baitan,  32,  42 
Belfast  Lough,  207 
Bell  of  St.  Columba,  2 
„       St.  Patrick,  2 
Birra  (Birr),  monastery, 

190 


Boat,  ancient,  a  "dug-out," 

98 
Boyle,  river,  74,  125 
Brecan,  whirlpool,  25 
Breg,  plain  of,  69 
Brendan,  94 
Brendan,  St.,  190 
Broichan,  the  Druid,  146, 

148 
Brude,  King,  10,  67,  148, 

150,  169 

Cadwallon,  British  king,  1 1 
Cailtan,  monk,  55 
Cainnech,  abbot,  24,  117, 

119 
Calgach,  oak  wood  of,  16, 

42,  53,  209 
Cantyre, ."  Land's  Head, " 

Car,  ancient  Irish,  174 
Cellrois,  monastery,  76 
Cethirn,  near  Coleraine,  88 
Cluaith  (Dumbarton),  35 
Colca,    and    his    mother's 

sin,  37,  218 
Colga,  61 
Colgu,  109 
Colman,  Bishop,  in  a  storm, 

25 
Colman,  "  the  hound,"  76 
Coloso  (Colonsay),  72 
Columb,  son  of  Aedh,  93 
Columb  Crag,  a  cleric,  16 


253 


254 


INDEX 


Columban,  St.,  205 
Comgell,  Abbot,  88,  207 
Clonmacnoise,  monastery, 

20 
Conall,  King,  27 

,,      Bishop,  93 
Cormac,   26 ;   his  voyage, 

168 
Cronan,  a  bard,  74 
,,       Bishop,  80 
Cruithni,  people,  88 
Cuimine,    biographer   of 

St.  Columba,  194 
Culedrebina  (Cooldrevny), 

battle,  7,  27 
Cuuleilne,  in  Iona,  65 

Dair-Mag   (monastery), 
Durrow,  20 

Diormit,  28,  33,  49,  54, 
140,  142,  204,  225 

Domhnall,  son  of  Aedh, 
30,#  89 

Domingart,  29 

Drum  Alban  (the  Gram- 
pians), 61,  142,  182,  208 

Drum  Ceatt,  30,  88,  108 

Druids,  68,  144,  146 

Durrow  (Dair  Mag)  monas- 
tery, 20 

Eilne,  plain  of,  93 

Elena,  island,  124 

Ethican  Island  (Tiree),  40, 
158,  200 

Eochoid,  son  of  Aidan,  29 

Ere,  a  robber,  72 

Ernan,  a  priest,  82 

Ernene,  prophecy  concern- 
ing him,  20,  22 


Failbhe,  22 
Failbeus,  Abbot,  12 
Feachna  the  Wise,  54 
Fedilmith,   St.   Columba's 

father,  6 
Feradach,  131 
Finbarr,  Bishop,  10,  99 
Findchan,  priest,  62 
Findlugan,  133 
Field  of  the  Two   Rivers 

(Terryglass),  152 
Finnian,  Bishop,  192 
Fintan,  St.,  16,  19 

Gallan,  61 

Gemman,    tutor    of    St. 

Columba,  134 
Genere,  a  baker,  203 
Geona,  cohort  of,  59 
Germanus,  St.,  149 
Guire,  a  peasant,  84 

Hinba,  Island,  43,  82,  132, 

*93>  2I5>  23i 
Hy-Neill,  tribe,  88 

Inchcolm,  oratory,  2 
loan,  129 
Iogenan,  112 

Iona,  4,  9,  24,  28,  36,  37, 
40,  72,  76,  86,  103,  106, 

119,  139»  158,  165,  i79> 
196,  199,  203,  204,  207, 
210,  221 

Irish  tongue,  3 

Islay,  island,  119,  131 

Key,  Lough,  74 
Laisran,  32,  38,  53 


INDEX 


255 


Lathreginden  (monastery), 

42 
Leinster,  18 
Libran,  "of  the  Rush  Field," 

158 
Lochaber,  127,  153 
Longa,  island,  133 
Lugaid,  44,  106,  156 
Lugbe  Mocumin,    35,   48, 

51 

Lugbe  Mocublai,  76 

Lugne,  123,  167 
Lugud  Clodus,  69 
Lunge,  plain  of,  73 

Magi,  68,  144 
Mailodran,  priest,  42 
Manus    Dextera,    ruffian, 

133 

Maugina,  106 

Miathi,  British  tribe,  28 

Mochta,   disciple   of   St. 

Patrick,  5 
Moloc,  St.,  his  staff,  98 
Molua,  140 

Muirbolc,  in  Lismore,  32 
Mull,  island,  72 
Munster,  80 

Neman,  43,  70 


Nesan,    "  the    Crooked," 

126 
Ness,  river,  136,  146 

Ondemone,  battle,  27 
Oratory,  Inchcolm,  2 
Orkneys,  169 
Oswald,  King,  11 

Paul,  St.,  78,  200 
Peristera,  "Dove,"  4 
Pillow-stone   of   St. 
Columba,  186 

Rechru,  island,  25,  167 
Ronan,  76 
Rydderch,  King,  35 

Scandlan,  31 
Seghine,  abbot,  22 
Shuna,  island,  179 
Silnan,  monk,  104 
Skye,  island,  58,  136 
Strait,  the  Sound  of  Iona, 
SO,  56,  233 

Teilte,  (Telltown),  191 
Tiree,  island,  40,  158,  200 
Trioit,  monastery,  71 

Virgno,  216 


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